The minister of communications, Adebayo Shittu, has claimed that he did not violate the Constitution by not participating in the compulsory one year National Youth Services Corps (NYSC) scheme.
But the minister is wrong as the law is clear on his failure to serve.
PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported how Mr Shittu skipped the mandatory service, an offence that may see him lose his position and earn him a jail term.
Mr Shittu failed to participate in the NYSC scheme despite graduating from the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU) at age of 25.
The revelation about Mr Shittu, who is currently angling to become Oyo State governor, is coming to light about a week after Kemi Adeosun was compelled to step down from her post as Nigeria’s finance minister after this medium reported that she skipped national service and then procured a fake exemption certificate to cover her tracks.
Months of discreet checks at the NYSC headquarters showed that the communications minister did not present himself for service after graduation and is yet to do so till date.
When contacted Mr Shittu admitted to PREMIUM TIMES that he did not serve but claimed he thought his first political post after graduation could suffice as national service, a claim lawyers and NYSC insiders consider as ludicrous and untenable.
Skipping the compulsory national service is an offence under the NYSC law, punishable with up to 12 months imprisonment.
Employers are mandated by law to always request NYSC certificate of national service from employees as part of the conditions for hiring.
Mr Shittu, born on March 23, 1953, studied law at OAU, graduating in 1978. He proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, qualifying as a lawyer in 1979.
Having earned a bachelors degree at the age of 25, Section 2 of the NYSC Act expects Mr Shittu to have participated in the year-long national service.
But on Friday, the minister told reporters in Abuja, arguing that his case could not be compared to that of Mrs Adeosun.
The minister who is one of the All Progressives Congress(APC) governorship aspirants in Oyo State, spoke after being interviewed by the APC screening committee.
Mr Shittu said whereas the former minister submitted a fake NYSC exemption certificate, he did not obtain any certificate.
He added that he considered his service at the Oyo State Assembly as, “a higher service”. He said he had not infringed on any law in the country’s Constitution by skipping NYSC.
“Nigerian Tribune even reported that I left University in 1979, but in actual sense, I left in 1978 and left Law School in 1979.
“And the Constitution says anyone who qualifies to contest an election or who has gone through an election and wins, he is obligated to move through the House of Assembly which I did for four years.
“So it is a form of higher service as far as I’m concerned, and even now, I am still in service.
“I don’t think I have violated the law except someone has a superior argument and can prove it,” the minister said.
He stressed that his case was not like that of Mrs Adeosun, because according to him, ”there are differences”.
“Unfortunately, Kemi had a fake certificate, I didn’t present any, I didn’t have one.
“I simply followed the constitutional requirement that if you are qualified to contest an election, it is compulsory for you to serve the nation in the capacity that you won an election,” he said.(NAN)