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Court Rules In Favour Of Former Finance Minister, Says NYSC Certificate Not Compulsory To Hold Public Office

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A federal high court sitting in Abuja has ruled that Kemi Adeosun, former minister of finance, had no obligation to produce a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate to enable her hold public office in Nigeria.

The court was however silent on the allegation that she forged the certificate.

Adeosun had resigned as Nigeria’s finance minister in 2018 over allegations that she forged her NYSC certificate, which she presented as part of her credentials.

But delivering ruling in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/303/21 brought by Wole Olanipekun, a senior lawyer, on behalf of the former minister, Taiwo Taiwo, the judge, held that the former minister does not require an NYSC certificate to hold public office.

In the originating summons before the court, Adeosun through her counsel had argued that as of 1989, when she graduated from the University of East London, United Kingdom the constitution in force in Nigeria, was the 1979 constitution.

“Although the said 1979 constitution placed a condition for persons with dual citizenship to renounce their other citizenship upon attaining the age of 21 for them to retain their Nigerian citizenship, the plaintiff upon attaining the age of 21 on 9th March 1988, did not renounce her United Kingdom citizenship, and she held only to her United Kingdom citizenship until her graduation from the University of London at the age of 22, in 1989, and thereafter,” the document said.

“In essence, by the effect of the said 1979 Constitution, the plaintiff had, as at the date of her graduation from the University, forfeited her Nigerian citizenship, which did not revert to her until the promulgation of the 1999 Constitution, when she was already 32 years old.

“The truism, therefore, was that not being a Nigerian at the time of graduation, she was not eligible to participate in any scheme which was exclusively reserved for Nigerian citizens, including participation in the National Youth Service Corps scheme.”

Consequently, the court ruled 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 Corps Scheme, established by the National Youth Service Corps Act, CAP N84, LFN 2004.”

The judge also granted a declaration that “the plaintiff cannot be subjected to any penalty, forfeiture or put under any encumbrance in relation to her occupation or assumption of any of the following public offices, created by the Constitution.”