On Tuesday, July 16th, the Senate voted on the recommendations presented to it by the Senator Ike Ekwerenmadu-led Constitution Review Committee as part of the ongoing constitutional amendment process.
Of the 32 recommendations, the proposed deletion of Section 29 4(b) has stimulated the most conversation including an online petition with over 16,000 signatories and manual petitions in different parts of Nigeria over the weekend.
In the words of the petition:
S 29(4)(a) defines the character of a Nigerian who is capable of denouncing citizenship and clearly states that such person must be of full age – 18 years and above, which is in line with the Child Rights Act 2003 and the globally accepted understanding of the age at which humans attain adulthood. We thus join Gender and Constitutional Reform Network and other Nigerians in arguing that S 29(4)(b) not only contradicts S 29 (4)(a) and can cause misrepresentation in law and practice but it is discriminatory because citizenship is gender neutral and we should not have a provision on citizenship that applies only to females.
Given the issues around child marriage in Nigeria, including the non-domestication of the Child Right’s Act of 2003 by 12 states, the fact that for the purposes of renouncing one’s Nigerian citizenship, the Constitution recognizes married women under 18 years of age raises grave concerns around the possible implications for legitimisation.
It is critical that we engage with our lawmakers on the current constitutional review and we support the position that all amendments should be put to a referendum to ensure it reflects the wishes of Nigerians. You can find out more about your representatives in the National Assembly here – Proposed amendments by the Senate.