A Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that former minster of finance, Kemi Adeosun did not require National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate for appointment into political office in the country.
Taiwo Taiwo, the Judge, was passing judgement on the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/303/2021 filed by the Mrs Adeosun with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as the sole defendant.
Among the four prayers she presented in the suit is “a declaration that the plaintiff, being a United Kingdom citizen as at 1989 when she graduated from the University of East London, London, United Kingdom at the age of 22 years, was ineligible to participate in the National Youth Service Corpse scheme, established by the National Youth Service Corps Act, CAP N8, LFN, 2004.”
The judge in granting the four prayers on Wednesday, noted that the AGF who is the sole defendant, conceded to the suit.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo in a judgement on Wednesday rules that she was ineligible to participate in the NYSC scheme when she graduated from a United Kingdom university at 22 in 1989, because she was then a British citizen.
In its ruling, the court stated that she was not supposed to present herself for the service, as at the time of graduation, because under the 1979 constitution which was in force at that time, she was not a Nigerian citizen. The court went further to add that when she returned to Nigeria and became a Nigerian citizen at over 30 years old, she was no longer eligible to participate in the NYSC scheme.
According to Judge’s words as quoted on premium times;
“It is my finding, which was not challenged (by the Attorney General of the Federation) that by the time she (Adeosun) moved back to Nigeria in 2003, she was not eligible under the NYSC Act to serve in the National Youth Service Corps scheme.
“In fact, it would have been a criminal offence if she had participated in the NYSC under any guise.
“She had also been self-employed and was not in the employment of any agency or government, and therefore, she did not have to present a certificate of discharge as a prerequisite for employment.
“In any case, I have already determined from the facts before me that she was over the age limit for participation in the National Youth Service Corps at the time she moved to Nigeria.
“The plaintiff is a citizen of Nigeria by virtue of Section 25 (1) (C) of the 1999 Constitution. From my reading of this section of the Constitution, it is my finding that the plaintiff not being a Nigerian citizen in 1989 when she graduated from the University of East London, the United Kingdom, she was not eligible to participate in the National Youth Service Corps scheme,” the judge said.
On whether or not NYSC is required for ministerial appointment or legislative election, the judge said, “For the avoidance of doubt, participation in the NYSC scheme is not a yardstick to be elected into any of the legislative houses be it in the states or at the National Assembly, ditto (likewise) for ministerial appointment, despite the National Youth Service Corps Act being an integral part of the constitution by virtue of section 315 (5) of the Constitution.
Kemi Adeosun is the former Finance Minister of Nigeria and former chairman of the Board of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).
She was born in 1967 in London, England to Nigerian parents, both from Ogun State. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of East London and a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Financial Management from the University of London.
Mrs. Adeosun served as the Commissioner for Finance in her home Ogun State, was appointed as the Minister of Finance based on the fraudulent NYSC exemption certificate in November 2015.
On 7 July 2018, Nigerian online newspaper Premium Times alleged that Kemi Adeosun had illegally obtained her NYSC exemption certificate to get into public office. On 9th July, NYSC Director of Press and Public relations Adeyemi Adenike released a statement that confirmed that Adeosun legitimately submitted a request for an exemption certificate, but also stated that investigations were still ongoing to verify the approval of the exemption certificate.
On 14th of September,2018, Adeosun resigned as Minister of Finance in a written letter to the President due to the alleged NYSC Certificate forgery scandal.
The judge did not review the forgery of an NYSC exemption certificate which Mrs Adeosun procured for her screening ahead of her ministerial appointment in 2015.
Having resigned over NYSC exemption certificate forgery Mrs. Adeosun has now obtained a judgement that the NYSC certificate requirement did not apply to her. One wonders therefore why she had to forge the certificate in the first place.
Will she now go back to NYSC to obtain the required NYSC exemption certificate legitimately or simply rely on the court pronouncement that legislative and ministerial positions do not require NYSC certificate?
The pronouncement in itself raises another pertinent question; how is it that one need an NYSC certificate or an exemption to get into civil service positions while the politicians do not need same to become lawmakers or take up ministerial positions?
Nigeria law makers with their cohorts in the executive branch of government continue to show other Nigerians that there are two sets of laws in the country; one for them and one for the others.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur