Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, has filed a lawsuit against the ruling APC for disqualifying him as a governorship aspirant in Oyo state on account of not presenting the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme discharge certificate.
The National Working Committee had on September 27th disqualified Shittu from the Oyo state governorship primary after it was reported on a news platform that the Minister did not participate in the mandatory one year NYSC scheme when he graduated from the faculty of law from the Obafemi Awolowo University in 1978. He graduated at age 25 and failed to observe the mandatory one year service.
65-year-old Shittu, had in his defence, said upon his graduation, he contested for a seat in the state House of Assembly and won. According to him, serving in the state House of Assembly should suffice for his NYSC certificate.
In the suit filed by his counsel, A.U Mustapha, Adebayo asked the court to declare that the submission/presentation of NYSC Discharge Certificate to APC is not part of the requirements for him to participate in the primary election for Nomination of Governorship candidate of the party in Oyo State for the 2019 General Election. He asked the court to determine five issues. They are:
*”whether by the provision of Section 2(1) of the National Youth Service Corps Decree No. 24 of 1973 and/or any other provision of the Decree being the law in force as at 1978 when the Plaintiff graduated at the University of Ile-Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) he was under any legal obligation to have warranted the plaintiff’s participation in the National Youth Service Corps in the absence of a call-up instrument duly served on the Plaintiff by the National Youth Service Corps.
*”whether, by the combined reading of Sections 176-183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [as Amended] and Article 20(iii) & (iv) of the Constitution of the All Progressive Congress; it is a condition that the gubernatorial aspirant of the 1st Defendant (APC) and/or any political party for that matter in Nigeria must present the National Youth Service Corps Discharge/Exemption Certificate;
*”Whether it is ultra vires the powers of the 1st defendant to have disqualified the plaintiff from participating in its primary election for nomination of the governorship candidate of the 1st defendant in Oyo State for the 2019 General Election on the ground that the plaintiff does not possess National Youth Service Corps Discharge/Exemption Certificate;
*”Whether it does not amount to denial of fair hearing as enshrined in Section 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution of as amended for the 1st defendant to have purportedly disqualified the Plaintiff from contesting for governorship election in Oyo State under the platform of the 1st defendant without availing the Plaintiff an opportunity to be heard on the allegations that the plaintiff avoided the National Youth Service Scheme; and
*”whether by the combined reading of the provisions of Sections 147(5), 65(1)(b) & (2), 66 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 12 of the National Youth Service Corps Act, Cap N84 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, the plaintiff was qualified to have been appointed as a Minister capable of holding the office, and/or any other governmental office at any level notwithstanding the fact that he did not participate in the National Youth Service Corps Scheme.”
The court paper further reads
I was liable but not obligated to have participated in the National Youth Service Corps Scheme both at the time I graduated from the said University and as at the time I was called to the Nigerian Bar.
“I know as a fact that no “call-up instrument” was served on me as at 1978 when I graduated from the said University by the National Youth Service Corps to have warranted my participation in the scheme.
“I know as a fact that I was also not served any Notice or notified in any manner to proceed to participate in the National Youth Service Corps Scheme.
“I know as a fact that participation in the National Youth Service Corps programme is not one of the requirements to be satisfied under the 1st Defendant’s constitution to enable me participate in the primary election for Nominating the party flag bearer for the office of Governor of Oyo State in the 2019 General Election. A copy of the Constitution of the 1st Defendant is hereby attached and marked as “Exhibit SHITTU 8”.
“I also know as a fact that under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) it is not a requirement for me to have participated in National Youth Service Corps Scheme to be eligible for participation in the 1st Defendant’s primary election for Nomination of its flag bearer in Oyo State for the 2019 General election.
“I know also as a fact that the Electoral Act 2010 [as Amended] did not make participation in the National Youth Service Corps Scheme a condition precedent for contesting any elective office whatsoever.
“I know also that participation in NYSC Scheme is not one of the requirements to enable me take part in primary election for Nomination of the 1st Defendant’s flag bearer for the office of Governor of Oyo State in the 2019 General election.”