Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun has maintained a studied silence more than 48 hours after she was accused of forging her National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate.
This is even as NYSC vowed to investigate the origin of the “purported exemption certificate” in question.
An online newspaper Premium Times had at the weekend reported that the minister forged an exemption certificate after failing to do the one-year national service, which is mandatory for graduates below 30 years at the time of graduation.
Breaking its silence on the matter yesterday, management of NYSC issued a terse statement saying that based on its records, the finance minister had applied for an exemption certificate.
In the statement signed by Director, Press and Publications Relations, Mrs. Adenike Adeyemi, the scheme however vowed to investigate the origin of the purported Exemption Certificate in question.
“Our attention has been drawn to the issue of the alleged forgery of an NYSC exemption certificate by Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun.
“Checking our records, Mrs Adeosun did apply for an exemption certificate. We shall investigate the origin of the purported exemption certificate in question,” Adenike said.
NYSC management did not however say if the minister was actually given the exemption certificate which she applied for.
When our correspondent asked Adeyemi to confirm whether or not NYSC issued Adeosun with an exemption certificate as requested, she declined response saying the corps would make its position known after the investigation.
Efforts to get the reaction of the minister failed. Her Special Adviser, Media & Communications, Mr Oluyinka Akintunde neither answered several calls put to his phone nor responded to text and email messages sent to him.
Mr Akintunde however later circulated a picture of the minister hosting some officials of International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by its Mission Chief for Nigeria, Amine Mati, in the minister’s office yesterday. Journalists who usually covered such events for the minister were not invited for the event.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that the certificate scandal is also causing unease among top government functionaries who are working on how best to react to it.
A source last night said the probe opened by NYSC was meant to buy time even as an appropriate response is being prepared.
Lawyer demands Adeosun’s sack
A Constitutional lawyer, Francis Obalim, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to sack Adeosun, from office for not possessing a valid certificate issued by NYSC.
Obalim asked the court to make an order quashing and setting aside Adeosun’s appointment as a Minister of Federal Republic of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari, same being an act done in circumvention of a condition precedent and in contravention of mandatory Sections 12, 13 and 14 of the NYSC Act which is part of the 1999 Constitution.
He argues that Adeosun was not qualified for employment in Nigeria as Minister or in any other capacity whatsoever, without first presenting a valid discharge certificate issued by NYSC.
The lawyer wants the court to compel Adeosun to refund all salaries, emoluments, allowances and such other benefits she has enjoyed since assuming office in 2015 to the Federal Government through Treasury Single Account domiciled at Central Bank of Nigeria.
Those joined as defendants in the suit are Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki and Clerk of Senate.
No date has been fixed for hearing.
‘Certificate controversy a distraction’
A China affairs expert, Mr Charles Onunaiju has criticised media attacks against Adeosun over alleged certificate forgery.
Onunaiju yesterday said the “attacks” were coming from ‘enemies’ who are not comfortable with Adeosun’s reforms to stimulate the economy, which resulted in widening of the country’s tax net, in-house cleaning, whistle-blowing, investment in critical infrastructure and other programmes.
Onunaiju, who is Executive Director of Centre for China Studies (CCS), questioned why the certificate uproar was not raised during her screening process and why several expatriates working in the country are not required to present an NYSC certificate. He advised the minister not to be distracted from her ongoing reforms and strides in the economy.