A civic group has filed a suit seeking to compel Nigeria’s police chief to investigate the forgery allegation against finance minister, Kemi Adeosun.
The Human and Environmental Development Agenda Resource Centre (HEDA), a non-governmental organisation, filed the motion at the Federal High Court, Lagos. It is seeking the leave of court to apply for an order compelling the Inspector General of Police to commence urgent investigations into Mrs Adeosun’s forged National Youth Service Corps exemption certificate.
This is a second suit made public by civic groups on the matter.
In August, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) sued the NYSC after it received no response to a freedom of information request to the NYSC seeking details of the certificate paraded by Mrs Adeosun.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1369/18 filed at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, SERAP sought “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and/or compelling General Kazaure and the NYSC to urgently provide specific documents and information on Mrs Kemi Adeosun’s application to the NYSC for Exemption and to publish widely including on a dedicated and on the NYSC website, any such information.”
HEDA, in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES Sunday, said it chose to approach the court with a view to ensuring that the matter is not swept under the carpet like most of such allegations involving politically exposed persons.
A statement signed by HEDA’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, said the motion exparte was dated August 30 and filed alongside an affidavit, a certificate of identification of computer generated document, a statement, a verifying affidavit and a written address.
HEDA’s application follows an earlier petition written to the Inspector General of Police in July demanding a thorough and urgent investigation of the allegations of forgery of NYSC certificate by Mrs. Adeosun. In the petition, the organisation requested that if the minister is found to be culpable of the allegations, she should be prosecuted, alongside the State Security Service officials responsible for vetting her certificate, including members of the parliament accused of exploiting her situation for budgetary favours.
In July, PREMIUM TIMES exposed how Mrs Adeosun skipped the mandatory national service for all Nigerians who graduated from universities or equivalent institutions at less than 30 years of age. The investigation also revealed that Mrs Adeosun presented a fake exemption certificate to cover her track.
In addition to being a requirement for government and private sector jobs in Nigeria, the enabling law prescribes punishment for anyone who absconds from the scheme or forges its certificates. Eligible Nigerians who skipped the service are liable to be sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and/or N2,000 fine, according to Section 13 of the NYSC law. Section 13 (3) of the law also prescribes three-year jail term or option of N5,000 fine for anyone who contravenes provision of the law as Mrs Adeosun has done.
The revelation has elicited public outrage from Nigerians, civic groups and others. However, 57 days after the scandal broke, neither Mrs Adeosun nor the Nigerian government has reacted to the development.
According to the court application papers, HEDA seeks, among others, “An order granting leave to the applicant to apply for an order of mandamus compelling the office of the IGP to investigate and publish its report on the allegations of forgery of NYSC certificate against Nigeria’s finance minister; Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.”
The civic group similarly urged the court to hear the matter urgently in the overriding interest of justice since the subject matter is of utmost national concern and particularly of great interest to civil society in general.
On Tuesday, the Nigerian government said it was not silent about the scandal. Femi Adesina, presidential spokesperson, said government agencies are ‘investigating’ the matter.
“Of course, NYSC has spoken, it’s an agency of government, saying it is investigating. The minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has spoken a couple of times on this matter. So I wouldn’t call that silence,” Mr Adesina said while featuring on Channels Television breakfast show, Sunrise Daily.
When probed on why it is taking the government and its agency, the NYSC, that long to come out with a position on the issue, he said, “(It is) Not how long but how well, and that wouldn’t qualify as silence… I am sure NYSC also has a spokesperson that you can follow up with.”