The Human and Environmental Development Agenda Resource Centre (HEDA), a non-governmental organisation, has asked the Inspector-General of Police to conduct an urgent and thorough investigation into the allegations of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate forgery against Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria's finance minister.
In a petition to the IGP and signed by HEDA's chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, the group said if the minister is found culpable of the allegation, she should be prosecuted. It added that the State Security Services officers responsible for vetting her certificate and members of the parliament accused of extorting her situation for budgetary favours, should also face the music.
Taking its cue from a report, HEDA said. "According to an exclusive report in the publication of Premium Times, an online Newspaper, dated the 7th day of July, 2018, Nigeria's finance minister, Kemi Adeosun did not participate in the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Scheme, instead she allegedly forged an exemption certificate many years after graduation."
The group said that it is worth noting that the yearlong service organised by the National Youth Service Corps is compulsory for all Nigerians who graduate from universities or equivalent institutions, within or outside Nigeria, at less than 30 years of age. According to the provisions of Section 13 of the NYSC Act, eligible Nigerians who skip the service year are liable to be sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and/or N2000 fine.
Section 13(3) of the said Act also further provides for a jail term of three years or option of N5000 fine for anyone who contravenes the provisions of the law.
Section 13(4) of the NYSC Act specifically criminalises giving false information or illegally obtaining the agency's certificate and as such provides for up to three years jail term for offenders.
"According to reports, Mrs Adeosun is said to have graduated from the University of East London, formerly known as Polytechnic of East London in 1989 while she was at the age 22. According to her curriculum vitae, she was born in March, 1967.
"Having graduated at 22, it was obligatory for Mrs Adeosun to participate in the one-year national service, for her to qualify for any job, public or private, in Nigeria. This is premised upon the fact that her entire circumstances do not even in the first place qualify her for an exemption certificate from the mandatory service. However, reports have it that the embattled minister, having been concerned that she might run into trouble for skipping the mandatory scheme, sometime in 2009 allegedly procured a fake exemption certificate.
"Further investigation confirming the alleged forgery is the fact that Mrs. Adeosun's purported exemption certificate is dated September 9, 2009, and purportedly signed by Yusuf Bomoi, a former Director-General
of the corps. However, officials said Mr Bomoi stepped down from the NYSC position in January 2009 and could not have signed any certificate for the corps eight months after.
"Top officials of the NYSC, both current and former officials, familiar with the issues of exemption and the likes stated that the NYSC does not issue an exemption certificate to anyone who, like the minister, graduates before turning 30."
HEDA stressed that it is pertinent to note that Mrs Adeosun has used the alleged 'fake' certificate to clinch high profile jobs in Nigeria illegally, ranging from her service as a managing director with Quo Vadis Partnerships, Commissioner for Finance with the Ogun State Government and currently serving as Minister of Finance with the Federal government.
"The alleged forgery is also reported to be a tool being used by the National Assembly to 'blackmail' Mrs Adeosun to release funds to the legislative arm of government, the National Assembly, having discovered the forgery during her screening/confirmation exercise as finance minister in 2015.
"According to an official statement of the NYSC as regards the forgery scandal, the scheme purportedly stated that there is evidence that the embattled minister had indeed applied for an exemption certificate and promised to investigate the alleged forged exemption certificate."
The resource centre averred that, "The said NYSC statement confirms to a reasonable degree the allegations of forgery, as the corps would have made bold to state authoritatively that it issued the said exemption certificate, if that was the case, without requiring further investigations, since the corps is deemed to have records of all its issuance of exemption certificates.
"We are convinced, beyond reasonable doubt that the NYSC could not have issued an exemption certificate to Mrs. Adeosun who does not fall within the category of those classified for exemption under the NYSC Act. According to Section 2 (2) of the Act."
HEDA however noted that, "In a situation where acknowledgement or response is not received from your office within two weeks of the receipt of this petition, this organisation will be left with no option than institute a legal action to compel action in accordance the law."