Change of Name – When a child is born, the Lagos State and other respective states’ Birth, Death, and Burial Laws apply. Nigeria demands quick birth registration and the issue of a certificate in the individual’s name.
A Newborn’s Change of Name
A parent or guardian may modify a child’s name within twelve (12) months of the child’s name being registered.
For example, the Lagos State Law on Birth, Death, and Burial provides for this circumstance in Section 16, which states:
“Where a birth has been registered, and it is desired to change the name of the child or where a birth has been registered without a name and a name is subsequently given to the child, the parent or guardian of such child may within twelve months after the registration of the birth deliver to the registrar a certificate.”
Adults Changing Their Names and After Marriage
In Nigeria, there is no single law that governs the entire procedure for changing one’s name.
However, a close examination of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) (the Constitution) reveals an implied right for people to exercise liberties such as changing their birth names by informing the court, but it places the burden of proof on the general public to prove why such a change should not be upheld or allowed by the court.
The right to change one’s name is inextricably tied to the freedoms of speech and religion guaranteed by Sections 42 and 38 of the Constitution, respectively.
The only recognized grounds for invalidating a change of name are national security, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, and the protection of the rights and freedoms of other Nigerian citizens.
Change of Name of an Adult and after Marriage
In Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria v. Esther Bode Adesina, the Nigerian Court of Appeal Ogakwu JCA observed, “In Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria v. Esther Bode Adesina, the Nigerian Court of Appeal supported the individual’s right to alter a name.”
“It is my considered opinion, a Nigerian and indeed any person entitled to change his name not only for marital purposes but also for religious purposes especially in a country like Nigeria both male and female can change their name for instance a Christian, Abraham can chose [sic]to be Ibrahim, a muslim or vice versa if the interpretation or decision of the Respondent is to be conceded to then there would be a discrimination that only females can change but their maiden name, but not their whole names. There is no Law that says a female cannot change all her names.”
Documents for Change of Name in Nigeria
After determining the legal stance on name change, the following documents are required to change a name in practice:
- Sworn Affidavit
- Newspaper Publication
- Photocopy of Marriage Certificate (Where applicable)
- Passport Photographs
The National Identity Management Commission Act of 2007 has had an impact.
- An applicant for a change of name should approach the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) for the reissuance of a new National Identity Number Slip/Card, and should bring the following with them:
- The original copy of the NIN slip he/she received after the initial registration;
- If the payment was made online, a printout of the Remita Retrieval Reference (RRR) number supplied to the bank after payment/or a printout specifying the payment information;
The National Identity Management Commission Act of 2007 has two effects.
A letter of application with the necessary supporting papers;
- Sworn Affidavit
- Newspaper advertisement announcing the applicant’s change of name to the general public.
- Certificate of Marriage (where the applicant is married).
After you’ve changed your name, there are a few things you should do.
Request that your regulatory identification cards, utility bills, and international passports be reissued in your new name;
Request that your debit cards, checks, and other bank information be replaced in your new name; and
Notify your employer and other organizations, and ask for your name to be changed on any relevant documents.