Fred Itua, Abuja
Protesters, at the weekend in Abuja, questioned the issuance of a discharge certificate to the speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Mr. Chiji Collins by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
The protesters, who converged on Abuja on the platform of Anti-corruption Advocacy, are calling on the National Assembly and the NYSC authority to step in.
The protesters said the NYSC issued an exemption certificate to Mr. Collins in 1993, despite the fact that he bagged a Higher National Diploma certificate in 1981.
They argued that according to the decree establishing NYSC in 1973, Mr. Collins was not qualified for an exemption certificate.
Mr. Uche Okoronkwo, who spoke on behalf of other protesters, said: “We are constrained to draw the immediate attention of the National Assembly and the NYSC authorities of the issuance of the NYSC Exemption Certificate dated July 22nd, 1993 to the incumbent Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Mr. Chiji Collins.
“We have it on good authority that Mr. Chiji Collins bagged a Higher National Diploma Certificate from the Institute of Art, Reggio-Calabria, Italy at age 24 in 1981, according to the decree establishing the National Youth Service Corps in 1973, Mr. Chiji Collins was not qualified for an NYSC Exemption Certificate.
“Having not served the nation as required by the law when he was under 30, Mr. Chiji Collins was not entitled to the exemption at the age of 36 as he did in 1993. The law compels you to serve irrespective of the age you make yourself available to the NYSC.”
Chief press secretary to the speaker, Chidiebube Okeoma, in his reaction, described the protesters as uninformed and mischievous. He said as at when the speaker returned to Nigeria, he was already over 30 years and was therefore not eligible to embark on the national programme.
He said: “They’re either uninformed or mischievous. When he came to Abuja in 1993, he was already over 30. There was no need for him to embark on the NYSC programme. He’s not new to politics.
“He’s not new to the House of Assembly. The certificate in question was not issued to him today. That was a long time ago. He’s been in public service for a long time. Why now?”