Uche Usim, Abuja
The Presidency, Senate and Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, have kept mute over allegations published by Premium Times, at the weekend, that she skipped the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and subsequently obtained a forged exemption certificate in 2009.
The minister reportedly graduated from the Polytechnic of East London, in the United Kingdom, in 1989, at 22.
The scheme is compulsory for all Nigerian graduates, under the age of 30, while those above the age limit are required to obtain an exemption certificate.
Several attempts to get speak with the minister, by Daily Sun, yesterday, were unsuccessful.
Repeated calls to her mobile line, up till 6:16pm, yesterday evening, went unanswered. Thereafter, the minister did not respond to text messages either.
The NYSC certificate, in addition to being a requirement for government and private sector jobs in Nigeria, the enabling law prescribes punishment for anyone who absconds from the scheme or forges its certificates.
Eligible Nigerians who skip the service are liable to be sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and/or N2,000 fine, according to Section 13 of the NYSC law.
Section 13 (3) of the law also prescribes three-year jail term or option of N5,000 fine for anyone who contravenes provision of the law.
Sub section 4 of the same section also criminalises giving false information or illegally obtaining the agency’s certificate. It provides for up to three-year jail term for such offenders.
Regardless, the report also alleged that the National Assembly was in the know of her alleged NYSC exemption certificate forgery case but kept mum and turned it into a strong blackmailing machinery.
Premium Times alleged the Finance ministry recently approved N10 billion for the National Assembly.
Senate spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi Sabi, could not be reached to speak on allegations that lawmakers were using that information against the minister; and extorting money from the ministry. He did not respond to calls from Daily Sun, to his active mobile line.
However, a source in the office of the Senate President said the Red Chamber is already preparing robust response to the allegations raised against it.
When contacted for comments on the matter, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Garba Shehu replied: “She has her spokespersons. Speak to them.”
By the NYSC law, there are four categories of Nigerians eligible for exemption certificates. The first are those who graduated after turning 30. The second are holders of national honours.
The third are persons who served in the armed forces or the police for up to nine months. The last category are staff of intelligence agencies, or the Armed Forces.