Nigeria: Information on whether a non-Nigerian woman married to a Nigerian man can obtain Nigerian citizenship based on their marriage if the marriage is common law, including requirements and procedures (2015-January 2017) [NGA105737.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

Information on the ability of a non-Nigerian wife of Nigerian man to obtain residency or citizenship in Nigeria if their marriage is common law, including requirements and procedures, could not be obtained among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this response. The following information may be of interest.

1. Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC)

According to the website of the Nigeria Immigration Service, the "CERPAC Green Card" is

a bonafide document that allows a non-Nigerian to reside in Nigeria and carry out an approved activity as specified in the permit, or to accompany a resident or citizen of Nigeria as a dependant. Possession of a valid CERPAC Green Card does not exempt the holder from having a valid entry or re-entry permit/visa. Holders of resident status in Nigeria who are proceeding on leave or temporary duty outside Nigeria should apply for re-entry permit/visa prior to their departure from Nigeria. The validity is Two (2) years. (Nigeria n.d.)

Without providing further information, the same website states that "Niger-Wives"[1] are able to obtain a CERPAC by submitting an "AR" form, which is "issued at the Immigration Service quarters and State Commands all over the Federation" and the application must also include the following:

  • Formal letter of request from Nigerian husband accepting Immigration Responsibility.
  • Formal letter of request from the wife.
  • Photocopies of the first five (5) pages of husband’s Nigeria Standard passport.
  • Photocopy of marriage Certificate.
  • Duly completed form IMM22 in triplicate copies with three (3) recent passport photographs.
  • Applicant’s National Passport. (ibid.)

A May 2014 article authored by a Nigerian lawyer in The Lawyers Chronicle, a Nigeria-based "pan-African online publication for lawyers, scholars, students and policy makers" that "surveys the main trends of legal and socio-political issues on the African continent" (The Lawyers Chronicle 21 Mar. 2016), indicates that if the wife is abroad, the following must be submitted:

  1. a formal letter of request from her Nigerian husband in which he will accept immigration responsibility for her;
  2. a formal letter requesting for the Niger-wife status/visa from the wife;
  3. copies of the first 5 pages of her husband’s Nigerian passport;
  4. a copy of their marriage certificate;
  5. a completed IMM22 form in 3 copies;
  6. 3 recent passport photographs; and
  7. the applicant’s/wife’s national passport. (ibid. 15 May 2014)

The Nigeria Immigration Service further states that the CERPAC fee is waived for "Niger-wives" (Nigeria n.d.). A copy of the page is attached to this Response (Attachment 1).

Information about legislation on common law marriages, within Nigeria or abroad, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. A copy of the Nigerian Marriage Act is attached to this Response (Attachment 2).

2. Citizenship

The article in the Lawyers Chronicle reports that "Nigerian citizenship is not automatic or guaranteed to a Niger-wife" according to the Nigerian constitution (The Lawyers Chronicle 15 May 2014). Articles 26, 27 and 28 of the Nigerian Constitution provide the following in regards to citizenship:

26.

  1. Subject to the provisions of section 28 of this Constitution, a person to whom the provisions of this section apply may be registered as a citizen of Nigeria, if the President is satisfied that -
    1. he is a person of good character;
    2. he has shown a clear intention of his desire to be domiciled in Nigeria; and
    3. he has taken the Oath of Allegiance prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to this Constitution.
  2. the provisions of this section shall apply to-
    1. any woman who is or has been married to a citizen of Nigeria; or
    2. every person of full age and capacity born outside Nigeria any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria.

27.

  1. Subject to the provisions of section 28 of this Constitution, any person who is qualified in accordance with the provisions of this section may apply to the President for the same of a certificate of naturalisation.
  2. No person shall be qualified to apply for the grant of a certificate or naturalisation, unless he satisfies the President that -
    1. he is a person of full age and capacity;
    2. he is a person of good character;
    3. he has shown a clear intention of his desire to be domiciled in Nigeria;
    4. he is, in the opinion of the Governor of the State where he is or he proposes to be resident, acceptable to the local community in which he is to live permanently, and has been assimilated into the way of life of Nigerians in that part of the Federation;
    5. he is a person who has made or is capable of making useful contribution to the advancement; progress and well-being of Nigeria;
    6. he has taken the Oath of Allegiance prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to this Constitution; and
    7. he has, immediately preceding the date of his application, either-
      1. resided in Nigeria for a continuous period of fifteen years; or
      2. resided in Nigeria continuously for a period of twelve months, and during the period of twenty years immediately preceding that period of twelve months has resided in Nigeria for periods amounting in the aggregate to not less than fifteen years.

28.

  1. Subject to the other provisions of this section, a person shall forfeit forthwith his Nigerian citizenship if, not being a citizen of Nigeria by birth, he acquires or retains the citizenship or nationality of a country, other than Nigeria, of which he is not a citizen by birth.
  2. Any registration of a person as a citizen of Nigeria or the grant of a certificate of naturalisation to a person who is a citizen of a country other than Nigeria at the time of such registration or grant shall, if he is not a citizen by birth of that other country, be conditional upon effective renunciation of the citizenship or nationality of that other country within a period of not more than five months from the date of such registration or grant. (Nigeria 1999)

A copy of the Nigerian Constitution is attached to this Response (Attachment 3).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Note

[1] According to the May 2014 article in The Lawyers Chronicle, Niger-wife "is the official term used by the Nigerian Immigration Service for a non-Nigerian woman married to a Nigerian" (The Lawyers Chronicle 15 May 2014).

References

The Lawyers Chronicle. 21 March 2016. "Overview." [Accessed 13 Jan. 2017]

The Lawyers Chronicle. 15 May 2014. "Who is a Niger-Wife?" [Accessed 13 Jan. 2017]

Nigeria. 1999. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. [Accessed 13 Jan. 2017]

Nigeria. N.d. "About NIS." [Accessed 13 Jan. 2017]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral Sources, Including: Nigeria – High Commission in Ottawa, Nigeria Immigration Service; Nigerwives Nigeria.

Internet Sites, Including: ecoi.net; Factiva; Global Immigration Africa; International Federation for Human Rights; Nigeria – High Commission in Ottawa; Nigerwives Nigeria; United Nations – Refworld; United States – Department of State.

Attachments

  1. Nigeria. N.d. "About NIS." [Accessed 13 Jan. 2017]
  2. Nigeria. 1990. Marriage Act. [Accessed 13 Jan. 2017]
  3. Nigeria. 1999. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. [Accessed 13 Jan. 2017]