Child adoption under the Nigerian law Part IV ~ Evans Ufeli Esq


Residence and Nationality Required for Adoption

For an adoption order to be made, both the child and the applicant must be resident in the state where the application is made and the applicant must have been so resident for at least five years. However, in the case of joint applicants, there is confusion in that whilst paragraph(a) of section 131 (1) prescribes that “both or, at least, one of them” must be resident in the same state where the child resides, paragraph(b) requires “both of them” to have been so resident for a period of at least five years.

In England, it has been held that, prima facie, residence involves some degree of permanence. Moreover, it is well settled in English case that a person could be resident in two or more places.

In Nigeria, it happens most often that a citizen leaves his state of origin and moves to another state or city where he takes up employment or practices his profession or trade. Whilst he resides most of the time in the state where he earns his living, he occasionally visits his country home (which he usually states in official records as his permanent address), intending to return ultimately to the latter residence.

He pays tax rate, commission, development levies, church dues and tittles in both states registers and participates in general elections and discharges other civic responsibilities in either state in this scenario. It is submitted that such a Nigerian resident in two states may therefore apply for an adoption order either in his state of origin or in the state where he resides and works.
As regard nationality, an adoption order shall not be made in respect of a child unless the applicants are citizen or, in the case of a joint application, both applicants are citizens of Nigerian.

In the making of such order, a sole male applicant, will not be allowed to adopt a female juvenile. This is intended to guard the danger of sexual corruption of the female child.

However, a joint adoption order will be made only in favour of a husband and wife in order to protect and retain the object of option which is to secure a family and a loving environment for the adopted child, the court will require the consent of the wife or husband where one of the spouses is the sole applicant for an adoption order.

An adoption order will not be made in respect of a juvenile unless the applicant, or applicants as the case may be, is not less than Twenty-five year old and is at least twenty-one year older than the juvenile. To this rule there are exceptions, the applicant must be either the father or mother of the juvenile, or if the applicant is a relative must be twenty-one year old.The person under the age of seventeen years may be adopted.

A juvenile whose parents or relatives are known and can be traced can also be adopted contrary to the restriction under the Lagos State Edict, which gives adoption only for juveniles who are abandoned or whose parents and other relatives are unknown. In addition, only child identified to be in need of an alternative parent should be adopted. This is well provided for in the Eastern States Law.

Residence connotes some degree of permanence. It is a permanent stay in a place. This is an essential prerequisite to the making of an adoption order. The law in question requires that both the applicant and the juvenile to be adopted must be resident in any of the Eastern States. While however, it is not necessary to show that the applicant has a home in a particular state or states, he must have a settled headquarters some where there.

An adoption order will not be made where the applicant, or in the case of joint applicants, either of the applicants is not a Nigerian Citizen.