Barely less than a week after Kemi Adeosun resigned her position as Minister of Finance due to the discovery that she forged her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate, another minister has been found culpable of not having partaken in the mandatory scheme – an offence that may see him lose his position and earn him jail term.
Premium Times, the news outlet that nailed Adeosun, reports that the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, failed to participate in the NYSC scheme despite graduating from the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) at age 25.
It is understood that findings from the NYSC headquarters showed that the communications minister did not present himself for service after graduation and is yet to do so till date.
When contacted on Tuesday about the development, Mr. Shittu owned up that he did not serve but claimed he thought his first political post after graduation could suffice as national service, a claim lawyers and NYSC insiders consider as ludicrous and untenable.
He said he deliberatively skipped the NYSC scheme because he was convinced that his membership of the state assembly was itself a “service”.
“The constitution provides for the qualification needed for state assembly members, NYSC is not there,” Mr. Shittu said. “I didn’t need it to become a member of the state assembly, and that is already a service,” he said.
While skipping the compulsory national service is an offence under the NYSC law, punishable with up to 12 months imprisonment, some lawyers who spoke with the newspaper agreed that Shittu deliberately skipping NYSC is a criminal offence.
Abdul Mahmud, Chairman of the Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL), said the Minister is a “dodger who is in breach of the law”.
According to Mahmud, the provision of Section 12 of the NYSC Act, indicates that the Minister should have presented his certificate before he was cleared for the position.
“The provision is clear. It says (you must serve) before you get any job in the federation,” Mahmud said, noting that Shittu’s “case is worse than that of Kemi Adeosun because he deliberately refused to serve”.
“If we assume as a member of the Oyo House he (Mr Shittu) served, did it not defeat objective 4 (b) stated in Section 1 (4) (b) of the NYSC Act? Members serve in states other than their own,” he said.
Mahmud called for Shittu’s immediate arrest and prosecution, saying “all positions he has held are illegal and he should return all monies he earned from those posts to government coffers”.