Finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, is not entitled to National Youth Service Corps' Certificate of Exemption, and even if she had applied for one, the man who was in charge of the Corps in 2009 said there was no way he could have approved such request.
On Wednesday, Maharazu Tsiga, who assumed office at the NYSC as director general in January 2009 broke his silence to PREMIUM TIMES in telephone chat from his Katsina base.
Mr Tsiga, a retired general, further provided clues that further reinforced positions of NYSC's serving and retired personnel, including a retired director of mobilisation, Anthony Ani, all pointing to the invalidity of the said 'certificate'.
Mr Tsiga repeated the point earlier made by Mr Ani that verifying any certificate claimed to be from the NYSC is an easy task.
"We have what is called strong room. I believe from there they can easily identify if a certificate is issued by the NYSC or not," he said when asked about the NYSC's claim about an ongoing investigation.
Answering question whether anybody who graduated below the age of 30 but applied later to the NYSC for exemption could be exempted, Mr Tsiga said "It is not possible".
He said even one had reached 100 years, one would still have to serve.
"In as much as you have not served, no matter how old you grow, in as much as you were not mobilised to serve at the time you were supposed to serve, they can never give you exemption. You must go for service," he said.
PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday published a detailed juxtaposition of an original Certificate of Exemption alongside the one paraded by Mrs Adeosun, which clearly shows that the minister's 'certificate' is fake.
The points enumerated by this newspaper were further corroborated by Mr Ani in his Channels TV interview, where he stated that there was no way a director general who left in January would sign a September certificate, among other reasons.
"I don't know where the certificate come from but (what) I say is that NYSC cannot make that mistake. The NYSC that I served, that I know, can never make that type of mistake," Mr Ani concluded.
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun (Photo Credit: Chronicle.ng)
Mrs Adeosun has been in the eye of a storm since the publication of an exclusive story by PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday exposing how she skipped the mandatory national service and fraudulently obtained a purported exemption certificate.
Curiously, the Nigerian government has adopted studied silence since the scandal broke out, aside a tacit statement issued by the NYSC on Monday, which was adopted by Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday.
The minister has also remained silent and she and her media adviser have not responded to media enquiries all the while.
NYSC claimed in a statement by the Corps' Director of Public Relations, Adenike Adeyemi, that "Mrs Adeosun did apply for Exemption Certificate", but in the same breath said it would investigate the source of the certificate being brandished by the minister.
The Bomoi Signature
The former DG, Mr Tsiga, said there was no way his predecessor, Yusuf Bomoi, could have signed a certificate issued in September as he (Tsiga) had taken over from him in January, except for any unscrupulous reason.
"There is no way that somebody would come and sign after hand over," he said of his predecessor's signature.
The retired general said he started signing certificates from the first batch of youth corps members mobilised after he resumed office.
Checks by PREMIUM TIMES show that the first batch in 2009, Batch A, was mobilised reported to camp on March 3, while Batch B was mobilised in July.
Mr Tsiga said aside from the time the certificate is signed, the most important thing to ascertain is the genuineness of the document in itself. He said the outcome of that first search would provide the first clue from where to unravel the scandal.
He reiterated that faking NYSC documents was a recurring issue.
"As I told you, we have had fake corps members, even fake NSYC camp" he said.
The revelations by Mr Tsiga and Mr Ani have further validated a number of observations made by some NYSC officials who volunteered information to our reporter in the course of this investigation.