By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
The Federal Government has rejected about 165 applications from nationals of other countries seeking to be citizens of Nigeria.
It, however, approved another 335 applications by some other persons wanting to become Nigerians.
Of the 335, 245 were granted citizenship by naturalization while the remaining 90 fell under citizens by registration.
Briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday, Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau disclosed that about 500 applications were received by his ministry in respect of Nigeria’s citizenship.
He explained further that the exercise was rigorously handled by the relevant department in the ministry and that those who met the laid down requirements were recommended by the advisory council to FEC for approval.
According to him, the the 500 applications also included a backlog from the previous administration as the last time citizenship screening exercise took place was 2013.
He said: “Over 500 applications were considered. Out of these, 335 were recommended for citizenship and this memo was brought to council to that effect. Citizenship is either by naturalization or by registration.
“There are 245 that applied for citizenship by naturalization and the requirements to be met are clearly stated in section 26 of the constitution.
“Then there is citizenship by registration and that is what is popularly known as Niger-wives which is for women in foreign countries who are married to Nigerian citizens. That is also clearly spelt out in section 27 of the constitution.
“So, the requirements are there and we considered them. Those who met the requirement, the advisory council recommended and sent to council for approval. So, today, FEC approved the recommendations of those who applied, 345 of them. 245 by naturalization and 90 by registration.”
Asked whther those rejected was on account of criminality, Dambazau said; “You know that there is preliminary investigation on each applicant and this is normally done in the state they reside. This is because, there representation of all the agencies where these applications are taken. So, it is not just the issue of criminality, there are requirement laid down in the constitution and each of these requirements must be met by every applicant.
“The moment any applicant doesn’t meet any of the requirement, check section 26 and 27 of the constitution, they are clearly stated there. If there are security issues, the security agencies will bring them out to say that a person belongs to a given group in-terms of security risk. But apart from that, we followed the rules and regulations, those constitutional requirements must be met.”