Need To Probe Illegal Issuance Of Nigerian Passports 

Opinion

By Rashid A. Balogun

A rejected tiger cub is doomed. The lawyer might say, why would a tiger reject its own cub? This piece concerns how Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) breached the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to reject our home grown athletes (youth and senior ones) for illegal aliens issued Nigeria’s passport without ever stepping foot in Nigeria. This is sad indeed.

How can we be standing knowing that our national pride and distinction is under threat? Nigeria’s system of governance is a democratic one, where the government and its citizens or potential citizens’ rights are defined in the constitution. That constitution must be protected against any breach of its provisions by Nigeria’s President as a duty based on the oath of office he swore upon assumption of his position under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. (The oath is clear: “… that I will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”). And as the Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s Armed Forces, failure to protect such constitution is tantamount to dereliction of duty which is very serious.

The President’s assignees, in form of Ministers are also under a duty to protect the constitution under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution against any breach with the same consequence of a dereliction charge. The issue of this writing concerns the issuance of Nigerian Passports to certain individuals who are not Nigeria’s citizens by virtue of the constitution. Copies of some of the issued passports are readily available on various online newspapers along with a link to youtube video evidence of  Lindsay Lindley allegedly referring to herself as Lindsay Weyinme so as to avoid Nigeria’s immigration scrutiny.

To set the scene of breaches of the relevant constitutional provisions, this writer will begin with the Citizenship Act provision within the constitution followed by existing facts and rest with recommendations. Such recommendations cannot fall short of cancellation of those passports issued. The relevant section of the constitution is section 26 because the individuals were not born in Nigeria. Also, 15 years of residence in Nigeria eliminate any of those individuals to be entitled to apply for naturalisation.

Citizenship Act (Chapter III of the Constitution of Nigeria) is clear about who could apply for Nigeria’s citizenship.

Section 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 –

(a) he is a person of good character;

(b) he has shown a clear intention of his desire to be domiciled in Nigeria; and

(c) he has taken the Oath of Allegiance prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to this Constitution.

(2) the provisions of this section shall apply to:

(a) any woman who is or has been married to a citizen of Nigeria; or

(b) every person of full age and capacity born outside Nigeria any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria.

The Available Facts

(A) There was no record that any application was made by any of these individuals to be registered as a citizens of Nigeria to the President of Nigeria and there was no record of FBI criminal background check  performed in the USA to establish the good character of these persons nor was there any check by the former Inspector General of Police as alleged;

(B) There was no intention by those individuals to domicile in Nigeria permanently because to do so is a conduct tantamount to renouncing US citizenship and these individuals show no such intention.

“ … However, a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship. In order to lose U.S. citizenship, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign citizenship voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up U.S. citizenship. Intent can be shown by the person’s statements or conduct.”;

(C) There was no oath of allegiance made by any authorised minister in accordance with the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution; and

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(D) There was no verifiable corroborating evidence that these individuals have parents or grandparents who are (were) citizens of Nigeria.

The names, dates, places Nigerian passports  were issued to them are:

SNAthlete Nigerian nameDate Place of birth

1. Jelks Mark  Amaju  20th June 2014  Calabar

2. Denby Nichole      1st October 2013 Washington DC

3. Simmons Robert Tuoyo 26th June 2014 Washington DC

4. Akins Tyron Toritseju 2nd June 2014 Washington DC

5. Hamadjam Soudi Yaya 22nd February 2014 Calabar

6 Monzavous Edwards Not available yet

7. Lindsay Lindley (now Lindsay Weyinme). She said her uncle just married last month to get Nigerian passport.

The Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC, USA and Calabar were used for the issuance of these passports and the problem in the country that was ranked as the most corrupt nation which is facing security challenges at this time is the credibility of our Ministry of Interior, former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ministry of Foreign Affairs in preventing this national security breaches. Of course, in some quarters people might say maybe the President is aware of all of these happenings but such suggestion is highly unlikely if these ministers weren’t aware.

The culpable people are those individuals at the AFN but the Ministers and the Inspector General of Police are under a duty based on oath they swore by virtue of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to protect the Constitution.

By virtue of the duty or obligation imposed on the IGP and the Ministers as well as President Goodluck Jonathan, the followings are recommended:

Those Nigeria’s passports must be cancelled and withdrawn;

All individuals (including officers at the Embassy in DC and Calabar) involved in the procurement of these Nigeria’s passports must be prosecuted and banned from holding any public office;

And AFN officials must be separately probed of all its activities.

•Dr. Balogun, CPA, LLB(Hons.), LLM(London)