Intellectual property

How can I change my name in Nigeria?

2020 have been characterized with the good, bad and ugly incidents. A viral post on social media has divided the year into five months ie. January, February, lockdown, protest and weddings. I can help but agree.

Talking about marriage, it brings a lot of changes to the persons involved this change also extends to their names and status on documents. It is the most common reason for a change of name. Others are a dislike of the current name, divorce, religious reasons etc.

Usually, when two persons get married (male and female) the lady changes her surname to that of the man. This name change gives a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment of being married. However, it is not compulsory to change your surname to reflect that of your husband. Do you know that the man can take up the wife’s surname instead?

The process of changing name Legally in Nigeria after marriage might just be too tasking however it is necessary as it is rebuttable evidence of the existence of a valid marriage.
In Nigeria, there are 3 steps to changing a name. These steps apply in every instance of change of name including marriage. They are

  1. Make an affidavit of change of name: this affidavit should state your full name, name of spouse (in case of a married person), address, reasons for the change of name and a declaration stating that the facts provided in the affidavit are true.
    This affidavit should be attested by a Magistrate, Notary Public or Commissioner for Oaths
  2. Newspaper advertisement with details of the change of name. Preferably a newspaper with wide coverage. This advertisement should include your old name and the new name, full residential address, name of witnessing/attesting authority, place and date on which the affidavit was made.
    This advertisement is necessary as it serves as a notification to the general public that you have officially changed your name.
  3. Informing the relevant persons such as employers, schools (if you are still a student) relevant government agencies etc. This is necessary to prevent the issue of mistaken identity and impersonation.
    A name which is an identity of a person, place or thing is also a unique identifier that differs one person, thing, a place from the other. It can be changed at any time by anyone.
    However, in as much as a change of name is a legal right, it cannot be exercised by a child (a person below18 years) except the parent or guardian does it. It cannot also be excised for fraudulent and criminal reasons or to evade payments of debts or mislead the public.