Buhari’s Minister Adebayo Shittu accused of skipping NYSC

The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, failed to participate in the NYSC scheme despite graduating from the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) at age 25, PREMIUM TIMES reports.

Adebayo Shittu completed his programme at the Law School, and was elected into the Oyo State House of Assembly. Born in 1953, he graduated in 1978 at the age of 25, and finished Law school in 1979, same year he was elected into the house.

The NYSC Law is clear on participation in the scheme, as it is mandatory for all Nigerians who have earned degrees or higher national diplomas from tertiary institutions in Nigeria and abroad (effective 1972/73 session).

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.

Those who qualify for exemption are those who graduated after their 30th birthday, persons with national honours and those who serve in the Police Force and Nigerian Army for a period of nine months.

However, Shittu insisted that he deliberately skipped NYSC, stating that “The constitution provides for the qualification needed for state assembly members, NYSC is not there. I didn’t need it to become a member of the state assembly, and that is already a service.”

Lawyers who spoke with the newspaper agreed that Shittu deliberately skipping NYSC is a criminal offence. Skipping the compulsory national service is an offence under the NYSC law, punishable with up to 12-month imprisonment.

Contacted Tuesday, Mr. Shittu admitted 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,” it added.

Despite not possessing an NYSC certificate, Shittu went on from being a state lawmaker, to occupying important government positions, including his current post as minister.

Shittu is a former attorney general and commissioner for justice in his native Oyo State. He also served as member of the Oyo State Judicial Service Commission from 2004 to 2007.

In 2005, he was nominated minister by President Buhari, and later assigned the communications portfolio upon legislative screening.

He also scaled the screening for the Oyo State House of Assembly, the SSS, and the National Assembly, who are all expected to screen commissioner and ministerial nominees before their appointment.

bdul Mahmud, Chairman of the Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL), said the Minister is a “dodger who is in breach of the law”.

According to Mahmud, the provision of Section 12 of the NYSC Act, indicates that the Minister should have presented his certificate before he was cleared for the position.

“The provision is clear. It says (you must serve) before you get any job in the federation,” Mahmud said, noting that Shittu’s “case is worse than that of Kemi Adeosun because he deliberately refused to serve”.

“If we assume as a member of the Oyo House he (Mr Shittu) served, did it not defeat objective 4 (b) stated in Section 1 (4) (b) of the NYSC Act? Members serve in states other than their own,” he said.

Mahmud called for Shittu’s immediate arrest and prosecution, saying “all positions he has held are illegal and he should return all monies he earned from those posts to government coffers”.

What the Law Says

Mr Shittu’s argument does not appear convincing when placed against the letters of the NYSC law. Section 2, subsection 1 of the Act makes it obligatory for “every Nigerian” who graduate at the end of academic year 1972-73 and subsequent years, “to make himself available for service for a continuous period of one year from the date specified in the call-up instrument served upon him”.

Subsection 2 of the same section enumerated instances of exemption from the national service, which did not include holding political office, as Mr Shittu claimed.

The four categories of individuals exempted from the national service, according to the NYSC law, are those who graduated above the age of thirty, and those who have served in the armed forces or the Nigeria Police for a period of more than nine months.

The third category covers staff of four security organisations, namely the Nigerian Security Organisation, the State Security Service, the National Intelligence Agency and the Defence Intelligence Service.

Exemption status is also conferred on individuals who bagged national honours before graduation.

Illegalities?

Despite not possessing certificate of national service, Mr Shittu went on from being a state lawmaker, to occupying important government positions, including his current post as minister.

Mr Shittu is a former attorney general and commissioner for justice in his native Oyo State. He also served as member of the Oyo State Judicial Service Commission from 2004 to 2007.

In 2005, he was nominated minister by President Buhari, and later assigned the communications portfolio upon legislative screening.

It is not clear how he scaled screenings by the Oyo State House of Assembly, the SSS, and the National Assembly, who are all expected to screen commissioner and ministerial nominees before their appointment.

Mr Shittu is now aspiring for governorship of Oyo State.
Section 12 of the NYSC Act mandates all employers to demand the national service certificate of prospective employees before hiring.

Section 12 of the Act reads:

“For the purposes of employment anywhere in the Federation and before employment, it shall be the duty of every prospective employer to demand and obtained from any person who claims to have obtained his first degree at the end of the academic year 1973-74 or, as the case may be, at the end of any subsequent academic year the following:-

a. a copy of the Certificate of National Service of such person issued pursuant to section 11 of this Decree

b. a copy of any exemption certificate issued to such person pursuant to section 17 of this Decree

c. such other particulars relevant there to as may be prescribed by or under this Decree.”

Section 13 of the Act also criminalises skipping the national service as it prescribes 12 months imprisonment or fine of N2,000 or both, for such offenders.

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