In a bold display of courage, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member in Imo State, has taken time to tutor the NYSC authorities on what true patriotism means to him and why he would not give up on the demand for good governance in the country.
The corps member, Abiodun Sanusi, in August, was accused by NYSC of “calling for a revolution against the Nigerian government”.
The accusation was based on a Twitter video in which Mr Sanusi pledged commitment to Omoyele Sowore’s Revolution Now Movement and said Nigeria needed improved healthcare and other social services, including employment for young people.
NYSC said Mr Sanusi granted an interview to Sahara Reporters, an online publication owned by Mr Sowore.
“This action which contravenes NYSC bye-laws schedule 3, Section 1(r) states (sic) that no serving corps member should address the press on matters bordering on policy and sensitive national issues,” NYSC said in a query to Mr Sanusi.
The query, signed by Nwali Emmanuel on behalf of the NYSC coordinator in Imo State, asked the corps member to explain within 24 hours why he should not be punished.
Mr Sanusi, in his response, told the NYSC that his “patriotic” activities did not violate any law and that he was only trying to help get Nigeria away from “its current messy state”.
He said he should rather be commended, and not queried or punished by the authorities.
Mr Sanusi said the section of the NYSC bye-laws quoted in the query was “strange and fictitious”.
“In fact, there is no part of the Bye-Law that penalizes or criminalizes my statesmanlike advocacies,” he added.
Really, the section mentioned in the query to Mr Sanusi does not exist anywhere in the 2011 revised NYSC Bye-Laws, a check by PREMIUM TIMES revealed.
When PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday, contacted the NYSC Coordinator in Imo State, Suleman Abdul, he asked the paper which edition of the NYSC bye-laws it was talking about.
Mr Suleman declined comment on the issue after the reporter referred him to the 2011 revised NYSC bye-laws.
An official of NYSC told PREMIUM TIMES that the bye-laws cited by this paper is the one currently in use by NYSC.
The corps member, Mr Sanusi, denied the accusation that he spoke to the press.
“All I did was exercise my right to freedom of expression guaranteed under Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution by conveying my thoughts through a video I posted on Twitter.
“That the press deemed it fit to amplify my genuine concerns, which is a force beyond my immediate control, cannot and should not be seen as an infraction, in any way,” Mr Sanusi wrote in his response to the query.
The corps member said the contemplation of the NYSC bye-laws was not to stifle free speech in matters relating to nation building.
“My agitations were about a country at the verge of drowning, not an issue related to NYSC jurisdiction,” he said.
Mr Sanusi said the NYSC authorities may have misunderstood him when they accused him of calling for a revolution.
“All I did was that I called on well-meaning Nigerians to join the historical #RevolutionNow protest. The demand for a better country, termed #RevolutionNow, is not a crime under the Nigerian law. This right is guaranteed and protected under Sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution.
“Interestingly, a Federal High Court in Lagos has condemned the harassment of #RevolutionNow protesters; the reason being that it is legally permissible, lawful, and constitutional to call for and hold #RevolutionNow protests,” the corps member said.
Mr Sanusi described himself as “a conscious Nigerian tired of the tragedy scene the country has turned into and ready to fight for a better country within the bounds of the law.”’
He added, “The right to speak for my generation is not an offence under any law in Nigeria… If at the end of the day, our agitations for a better country yield positive fruits, we all, including our children, shall be the beneficiaries.”
The NYSC spokesperson in Abuja, Adenike Adeyemi, did not respond to calls and a text message asking for her comment.
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