Former Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun (inset) with the alleged forged NYSC certificate
The Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Taiwo Taiwo on Wednesday July 7, 2021, declared that the former Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, did not need the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) discharge certificate to take up ministerial appointment in the country.
Recall that Adeosun had resigned her appointment as Minister of Finance and returned to the United Kingdom following controversy surrounding her NYSC status. She was accused of presenting a fake NYSC discharge certificate. She however instituted a suit against the federal government, and also joined the Attorney General of the Federation.
Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Taiwo who granted all the reliefs prayed by the plaintiff, noted that Adeosun, who graduated in a London University in 1989 at 22, was already 36 years old when she returned to Nigeria, adding that in line with the requirements of the scheme she was exempted from service.
According to the judge, Adeosun cannot present herself for National Youth Service because under the 1979 Constitution, which was in force at the time of her graduation, she was not a Nigerian citizen either at the time of her graduation or when she turned 30.
The court held that available fact before it proved that the former minister was a United Kingdom citizen having been born there in 1967 and remained there till 2003 when she came back to Nigeria.
He noted further that Adeosun, who became a Nigerian citizen by virtue of the 1999 Constitution which came into force on May 29, 1999, did not possess a Nigerian passport at graduation and therefore was not affected by the NYSC Act. Justice Taiwo said that Adeosun would have committed a grave crime against Nigeria if she had participated in the NYSC when she returned having attained the exemption age and marked 36 years.
The judge stated that the constitution did not require the plaintiff to present her first-degree certificate or any other certificate, including the NYSC certificate, before she could be appointed as a minister. To this extent, the court held that the ministerial appointment of Adeosun was not illegal, neither was it unconstitutional, even without presenting the NYSC certificate.
In its ruling on a suit for constitutional interpretation filed at the court in March 2021 by the firm of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, on behalf of Adeosun, the court said since the 1979 constitution, which was in force at the time did not recognise dual citizenship, Adeosun could not have served because she was a British citizen.
Adeosun graduated from the University of East London in 1989 at the age of 22. The court ruled that Nigerian citizenship only reverted under extant constitution by which time Adeosun was well above 30, and by the court ruling ineligible to participate in NYSC scheme as the scheme was exclusively reserved for Nigerians. The court accordingly granted all reliefs sought by Adeosun’s counsel.