Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has flayed the Nigerian Constitution over its discriminatory stance against women on matters of citizenship, saying the federal government was moving to address and put an end to statelessness.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the launch of the committee on National Action Plan to Eradicate Statelessness in Nigeria, he said, “Chapter 111, Section 26 (1-2a) states- subject to the provisions of this section 28 of this Constitution, a person whom the provisions of this section apply may be registered as a citizen of Nigeria, any woman who is, or has been married to a citizen of Nigeria.”
“The constitutional provision ignored the grant of Nigerian citizenship to foreign men/husband of Nigerian women in the same manner to which the female foreigners married to Nigerian men/husband.
“The same discriminatory provision was identified in Gazette No 51 of 2009 on grant of Special Immigrant Status. These provisions violate the non-discrimination by gender, religion, creed, etc as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.
“I don’t understand it. Because you are a man, you can bring a non- Nigerian to be a Nigerian but if you are a woman, you are forbidden. I can’t understand it.
“I know it’s our patricidal custom but its meaningless in other nations. I know that our men are afraid that their women will be taken away but it’s very meaningless. Take care of your women so that they don’t marry foreigners. Don’t discriminate against them by your laws. I don’t believe men are afraid anyway. It’s just an oversight.”
The minister said he had forwarded a proposal to President Muhammadu Buhari for approval for the re-introduction of Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) to cater for the categories of stateless persons as administrative relief to prevent statelessness, pending the maturity state or when amendment shall be effected in line with the procedures.
He said; “Statelessness is an affront on personal dignity liberty and human rights of affected persons. As such, no person should be allowed to pass through such horrific situation when it is within our power to assist. We should recognis e that it is an unfortunate situation foisted on affected persons by circumstances.” Meanwhile, the federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Immigrants and Internal Displaced Persons (NCRIDPs), Hon Imaan Suleiman Ibrahim, said the event marked a starting point in the actualisation of the provision of national working plan on statelessness.
She said the role of the commission in the action plan is to help the living status of the refugees and migrants because they also belong to the vulnerable group.