Friday, 28 June 2019

NYSC Certificate no longer a requirement for contesting governorship election, court rules

A Federal High Court in Abuja says a candidate cannot be disqualified from  election for failure to participate in the National Youth Service Corps scheme.

Premium Times reports that court made this pronouncement on Wednesday when it struck out a suit brought against the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, by a former senator, Iyabo Anisulowo.

The pre-election suit challenged the eligibility of Abiodun over his failure to participate in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.

The NYSC was established in 1973 and participation is mandatory for all Nigerians who graduate from a tertiary institution in or outside the country before they attain the age of 30.

The presentation of the NYSC discharge certificate awarded at the end of the one-year scheme is a requirement for employment into the formal sector in Nigeria.

In the suit against Abiodun of Ogun State, his counsel, Wale Ajayi, had prayed the court to dismiss the case against his client, saying participation in the NYSC scheme is not a requirement for participation in elections.

The court dismissed Abiodun’s notice of preliminary objection and proceeded to deliver judgment on the substantive suit, citing that Abiodun did not present false academic claims to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), neither does the Electoral Act stipulate that a candidate who failed to participate in the NYSC scheme be disqualified from elections.

The court further stated that Abiodun has not breached Section 177 of the Constitution which enables a candidate contest for governorship if “he/she is a Nigerian by birth, is 35 and above, is a member of a political party and has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”

The implication of the judgment is that candidates seeking election to contest governorship elections in Nigeria no longer need to present NYSC certificates.

The presentation of the NYSC discharge certificate is a requirement for employment into the formal sector in Nigeria.

Last year, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) disqualified the then Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, from running in its governorship primaries in Oyo State after he was exposed for skipping the NYSC scheme after taking a degree in Law in the late 1970s.

Also last year, Kemi Adeosun was forced to step down as Minister of Finance after it was revealed that she forged an NYSC exemption certificate which enabled her to be cleared for an appointment first as a commissioner in Ogun State and then as a minister in 2015 by President Buhari.

Adeosun had graduated from an institution in the United Kingdom before the age of 30, which made her eligible for participation in the NYSC scheme.

An exemption certificate is awarded only to Nigerians who are older than 25 years when they graduated, those serving in the military or security forces or those exempted on health ground.

Adeosun’s case is, however, different from that of Messrs Shittu and Abiodun because they did not use forged NYSC certificate neither did they falsely claim to have participated or be exempted from it.

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