Category Archives: Know your Rights

Change of Name Is A Constitutional Right

by             O. G. Chukkol.

It is not unusual for people to change their names in Nigeria. The reasons behind that are diverse. Changing of name is hardly a problem since it mostly falls within private affairs of individuals.

But one cannot rule out the possibility of issues arising from such change of name or attempt to change the name. For instance: in some work places, restrictions are placed on the specific names that can be changed or even prohibit the change of name completely; most schools including universities do not permit change of name once admitted as student etc

This article seeks to state the law as it relates to legality or otherwise of institutions, organizations, places of work etc prohibiting their staff or students from changing their names.

In NMCN v. ADESINA (2016) LPELR-40610(CA), Kehinde Yekini was a nurse. After marriage and conversion to Christianity, she changed her name to Mrs Esther Bose Adesina. Nursing And Midwifery Council Of Nigeria (NMCN), a body responsible for the granting and renewal of nursing license refused to renew her license with her new name but rather renewed same with her old name. NMCN claimed that their rules and policy prohibits changing of names except surname. In fact, for males, change of name is totally prohibited without an exception. She approached Court for the enforcement of her fundamental rights to Religion and freedom from discrimination. The court gave judgement in her favour and nullified that policy. The Court reasoned as follows:

“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. To that extent, I hold that the appeal has merit and this Court is prepared to strike down that provision of the guideline as being unconstitutional.”

NMCN appealed but they did not succeed. The Court of Appeal affirmed the decision above. The Court while agreeing with the learned judge that delivered the judgement at the Federal High Court Asaba held that:

“The Appellant never challenged the deposition that her change of name was consequent upon becoming a Christian.… it is pursuant to her constitutional right of freedom to change her religious belief that the Respondent became a Christian with the consequent change of name,… “Names are meant not only to identify. In Nigeria names are borne for a variety of reasons some for ethnic, religious reasons as well as circumstances of birth. In the instant case where the reasons advanced for the change of the names are religious and marital, the names are interwoven with the fundamental rights to practice religion of her choice and not to be discriminated against on that account. Section 42(1) of the 1999 Constitution…”

This case has laid to rest any likely controversy over this topic. Without peradventure, a Nigerian can change his name if he so wishes. Any other law or policy that prohibits change of name shall be null and of no effect.


Cases are authorities only on what they decide. This case has not laid a blanket principle to be applied in all circumstances. For a person to enjoy the unfettered right to change his name anywhere and anytime in Nigeria, he must connect same to one of the rights in chapter IV of the constitution. Else his action may fail.

The rights in chapter IV of the constitution are not absolute, they can be derogated by the operation of section 45 of the constitution. In other words there are circumstances where the courts may give effect to a particular law that prohibits change of name even if the reason for the change of name has connection with a particular right in chapter IV of the constitution.

It should be noted however that the burden is on the person relying on section 45 to establish that the law he is relying upon to prevent someone from changing his name is justifiable in a democratic society. See Abdulkareem V Lagos State Government (2016) 15 NWLR (pt. 1535) 177


                O. G. Chukkol,


              Faculty of Law,

                    ABU, Zaria.


            27th December, 2018

8 offences that can land someone in jail under the NYSC Act

The resignation of Nigeria’s Minister of Finance as a result of the controversy surrounding her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate has put the  NYSC  Act on the spotlight.

Courtroom Mail in refreshing our memories has published this article in plain language to accommodate every reader. Continue reading 8 offences that can land someone in jail under the NYSC Act

Eight ways you may go to jail in Nigeria because of marriage

Marriage in Nigeria is a serious business regulated by two main laws; the Marriage act and the Matrimonial causes act. The laws provide almost exhaustively, protections for parties to a marriage.   However, like any other law, people will continue to be creative in finding   ways around it and such creativity can land one in jail. In some cases, one need not even be a party to the marriage to become liable.

The marriage act provides for the following offences that can lead a party or a third party to jail in the cause of celebration of a marriage. Anthony Atata , a Nigerian lawyer whose practice covers divorce and family Law writes in a plain language for readers of Courtroom Mail who are not lawyers.Eight of the most common offences are as follows:[restrict paid=”true”]  Continue reading Eight ways you may go to jail in Nigeria because of marriage

If you want a divorce from a Nigerian Court,you must prove any of these

For a court in Nigeria to grant divorce to a party to matrimonial proceeding, it must be on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.Anthony Atata writes for Courtroom Mail(This is written in plain language for the benefit of ALL readers of courtroom mail)

For the Petitioner (the person who filed for divorce) to satisfy that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, he or she must prove one or more of the following:[restrict paid=”true”] Continue reading If you want a divorce from a Nigerian Court,you must prove any of these

How to validly refund or reject a bride price in Nigeria-What the Law says

This content is written for the numerous Courtroom mail readers who are not lawyers so will be devoid of any Jargon.

In most part Nigeria,payment of bride price is a thing of pride to the woman and could be a stigma to woman who co-habits with a man who did not pay her bride price.The bride price is indeed the pride price in many customs.

Two types of marriages are recognised under the Nigerian Law. Statutory Marriages (ie marriages in a licenced place of worship or in the registry popularly called court marriage in Nigeria) and customary marriages (popularly known as Traditional marriage) Continue reading How to validly refund or reject a bride price in Nigeria-What the Law says

Every tenant in Lagos must know these five things

In 2011 a new Tenancy Law was passed in Lagos which harmonised the relationship between landlords and Tenants in Lagos State.The Law is similar to the Tenancy Laws across the country.

In fact there are 25 THINGS Both Landlords and Tenants must know .Here we will deal with five that we regard as the most frequently asked questions and answer any other question you ask on the comment box. They are as follows:[restrict paid=”true”]  Continue reading Every tenant in Lagos must know these five things

What you should know about divorcing your spouse in a Nigerian Court.

As a divorce lawyer in Nigeria,I am always confronted with the question, “How do I get divorce papers?” or “I want to give my husband/wife divorce papers to sign” Each time I hear that, I smile because I know we watch a lot of foreign movies in Nigeria. The truth is that there is nothing like divorce papers within the context of what most clients have in mind which is usually a procedure where you just send your spouse a paper and he or she signs zap!You are divorced.

In Nigeria, divorce called dissolution of marriage in our laws goes through a process. Continue reading What you should know about divorcing your spouse in a Nigerian Court.