After telling Nigerians on Monday that the finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, applied for the National Youth Service Corps' Exemption Certificate, the Corps are perfecting a plan to issue another statement absolving the minister of any blame in the certificate forgery scandal, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
A source within the agency told this newspaper that there is severe pressure to exonerate Mrs Adeosun at any cost.
"Part of the plot, they've done the first part which is to claim that by their records they have seen that she applied," said the source whose identity is protected to avoid victimisation.
"Now the next thing is they will now say is that from their records, the woman applied genuinely and that certificate was issued to her. But that who issued it to her is something they have not determined.
"But that definitely, it cannot be the woman's fault because when she applied properly and it was issued to her, she had no way of knowing whether it was fake or genuine."
More than five days after PREMIUM TIMES exposed how Mrs Adeosun obtained a forged NYSC Exemption Certificate, the Corps only response had been a 49-word statement.
On Monday evening, the Corps replied, saying the minister did apply for it and that it would "investigate the origin of the purported Exemption Certificate in question."
This newspaper, however, maintains that the NYSC never issued any certificate to Mrs Adeosun because its reporter spent a lot of time going through the Corps' register of people who had been issued certificates.
"They are pretending now to say they are investigating," our source continued.
"So they will now say that they have set up an internal investigation to find out who issued the certificate to her within their system and that heads will roll when their investigation is concluded.
"They might say they want to determine whether it was issued to the woman by either staff who are still in employment or staff who have left.
"But they have exonerated the woman to say that 'look, it's not her fault, that she applied properly,' whereas it's a lie. They don't even apply for certificates and she never applied to the NYSC and she was never issued one."
When contacted on Thursday for an update on their investigation and on the alleged cover-up, Adenike Adeyemi, NYSC's director of press and public relations, declined to comment.
"There is no update. When there is, we'll get back to you," Ms Adeyemi told PREMIUM TIMES.
"I don't know where you learnt that (the cover-up) so I can't comment on it, I have told you that we have sent out our release. You have it. You have reported on it separately and as at date there is no update. When there is, I'll definitely get back to you."
Mrs Adeosun is yet to respond to the allegations.
Speaking to Channels Television's breakfast programme on Wednesday, Anthony Ani, a retired director at the NYSC, said it was impossible for the agency to issue an Exemption Certificate to anyone who graduated before the age of 30.
Asked on Thursday if it was possible for someone in the NYSC to issue a certificate without the Corps' knowledge, Mr Ani said he had already "put the records straight."
"I took time explaining our process yesterday (on Channels TV), how can you be saying that one person can issue... If you people had listened to me... I made an important submission, I said NYSC as an organisation and you people are just juggling the DG, the officers there, you people know they are civil servants. I'm talking because I'm retired," said Mr Ani.
"I said that NYSC cannot make that type of mistake, it is not possible and you people are... what else do you people need?
"I went further to tell you... because when we discovered that we were having fake camps, fake corpers, fake call-up letters and so on, we set up a committee and we found out that the thing was massive. Even at Area 10 in Abuja, because as we were investigating we involved SSS people, one of the people printing the certificates was a disabled person."
Mr Ani said it was possible for people to have been misled in the past by persons impersonating NYSC officials due to misinformation.
"A clerk can claim to do what an MD cannot do," he said.
"What I tried to do yesterday was to put the records straight about the process of NYSC, as somebody who was in mobilisation, you must pass through the process."