The Senate is currently working on an amendment to the 1999 Constitution with a view to conferring indigenship of a state on any resident that has consistently lived in that state for at least 10 years.
The proposed law is titled, “A bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to define who is an indigene of the state.”
The bill, obtained by Punch correspondent on Friday, was sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
The bill seeks to alter Section 31 of the Principal Act by inserting new subsections 2,3 and 4.
The new provision states that someone could become an indigene of a state if he or she was born in that state, or if he or she had lived in the state for a continuous period of not less than 10 years.
Such a person, according to the proposed legislation, should be able to show evidence of residency in a given local government area for a continuous period of not less than 10 years.
The person must also have evidence of tax returns issued in the state for a period of not less than 10 years; and should not have been convicted for a criminal offence.
It reads, “A person mentioned in subsection (2) of this section (3) shall be entitled to apply to the local government chairman for a certificate of indigeneship of the state.
“A woman who is married to an indigene of a state for a period of not less than five years shall automatically be an indigene of that state.”
The proposed law, however, gave conditions that could make a woman who was divorced or became widowed, remain an indigene.
It states that the marriage of the woman must have been for a period of not less than five years and that there must be children born in the marriage.
The bill would also alter Section 318 of the Principal Act to now define “indigene” as a citizen of Nigeria who is indigenously born to a state.
Such a person, it added, should have been granted indigeneship of the state after an application to the local government chairman.
A woman who is for a period of not less than five years married, divorced or widowed with children to an indigene of the state, the bill added, is qualified to remain an indigene.