FEC Ratifies Joint Council Memo to End Statelessness

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Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The federal government has approved a joint council memo presented by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and the Ministry of Interior to end statelessness in Nigeria.

The approval was given at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that was held on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a jointly processed presentation by the two ministries, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Mrs. Sadiya Umar Farouq, aligned with the submission earlier made by the Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, which reiterated that the approval of the National Action Plan (NAP) will demonstrate Nigeria’s strong commitment to implementing the Abidjan Declaration of ECOWAS member states on the eradication of statelessness.

Farouq noted that COVID-19 had worsened the plight of millions of stateless persons worldwide and called on Buhari to include and protect stateless populations by approving the NAP, while speaking on the consequences of statelessness on National Security.

She said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the critical need for greater inclusion and urgent resolution of situations which place individuals at risk of exclusion, including statelessness.

“We have seen how devastating the impact of statelessness can be on the peace and security of a nation. A person who has no nationality has no legal protection and lacks enjoyment of fundamental human rights. Therefore, there is need for a NAP to ensure that those unable to prove entitlement to citizenship are not excluded from access to basic services like health, education and protection through the elaborate actions set out in the draft National Plan of Action.”

The NAP would provide a framework to proactively address the risk factors of statelessness and possible cases of statelessness that exist in line with Commitment 24 of the Declaration.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that every individual has the right to a nationality.

The declaration consisted of 25 commitments made by ECOWAS member states to advance the commitment of members under the 1954 Convention relating to the status of stateless persons and the 1961 convention on the reduction, prevention, identification and protection of stateless persons, resolution of existing stateless situations, strategies and partnerships in the fight against statelessness.