The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has asked the judiciary to oppose politicians’ efforts to derail the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
This request was made at a news conference in Abuja on Monday, expressing concerns over an emerging tendency of credential fabrication by public office holders and the eventual demise of the NYSC as a legitimate public organisation.
The organisation emphasised the NYSC’s integrity, a scheme founded in 1973 to foster national unity that has resisted political pressure over its 50-year existence.
“Over the years, the NYSC has demonstrated exemplary courage and fairness in the discharge of its duties and responsibilities, and in all cases, has refused to be cowed by the barbaric intimidations of politicians,” said Comrade Halima Ibrahim, National Treasurer of CLO, who read the text of the press briefing in front of journalists.
“However, there is an emerging dangerous trend that must be stopped before it destroys the NYSC as a reputable public institution.” This trend is related to the increasing incidents of credential fraud by Nigerian politicians and ruling elites.
“The CLO is concerned and dismayed that some public office holders in the country who hold public trust positions are involved in forgery of public documents, including educational results and the NYSC discharge certificate.”
“More concerning is the fact that some of these powerful individuals are challenging anyone, including the courts, who dares to question their nefarious actions.”
“In some cases, these individuals are aided by agents of other state institutions to undermine investigations in pending cases.” Many of these cases have yet to be settled, but they are all very concerning.”
The CLO highlighted other cases in which the NYSC and patriotic Nigerians stood up to strong persons’ intimidation.
After failing to submit a legitimate NYSC discharge certificate, a serving cabinet minister was forced to resign from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2018. In 2019, a PENCOM Board nominee suffered a same fate.
Similarly, two recent incidents were mentioned: one with the incumbent Governor of Enugu State, Mr. Peter Mbah, and the other involving Ms. Hannatu Musawa, a serving Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ms. Musawa, Minister of Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy, is being investigated for functioning as a minister while still serving in the NYSC.
The CLO demanded her resignation immediately and requested President Bola Tinubu to remove her appointment if she failed to do so.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mbah continues to use a NYSC credential that has been declared invalid by the NYSC.
The CLO criticised his efforts to destabilise the NYSC through coordinated judicial assaults and media campaigns.
“No one is above the law,” said CLO President Igho Akeregha.
He asked the judiciary to take decisive action in these cases in order to protect the integrity of the NYSC scheme.
Failure to bring justice in such cases, the association warned, would mean the end of the NYSC.
The CLO urged Nigerians to be vigilant and urged the judiciary to protect the NYSC from desperate politicians.
They emphasised the value of strong institutions above strong individuals.
“Our contention is that Nigeria requires strong institutions rather than strong individuals,” the CLO remarked.