It was a sweet victory for former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on Wednesday, as Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court declared that she did not need the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) discharge certificate to take up a ministerial appointment in the country.
Delivering judgment in a suit instituted by her, Justice Taiwo, who granted all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff, noted that Adeosun who graduated from a London University in 1989, was already 36 years old by the time of her appointment, adding that in line with the requirements of the scheme, she was exempted from service.
In a swift reaction, the former minister said in a statement Wednesday that the judgment had vindicated her.
Adeosun had resigned her appointment as Minister of Finance and returned to the United Kingdom following the controversy surrounding her NYSC status.
She, however, instituted a suit against the federal government, which also included the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The judge held that Adeosun could not have presented herself for participation in the NYSC programme because under 1979 Constitution, which was in force at the time of her graduation, she was not a Nigerian citizen either at the time of her graduation or when she turned 30.
The court held that facts before it proved that the former minister was a United Kingdom citizen having been born there in 1967 and remained there till 2003 when she came back to Nigeria.
He added that Adeosun became a Nigerian citizen by virtue of the 1999 Constitution, which came into force on May 29, 1999, and, therefore, was not affected by the NYSC Act.
Justice Taiwo said Adeosun would have committed a grave crime against Nigeria, if she had participated in the NYSC having attained the exemption age of 36 years.
The judge stated that the constitution does not require the plaintiff to present her first-degree certificate or any other certificate, including the NYSC certificate, before she could be appointed as a minister.
It ruled that the ministerial appointment of Adeosun was not illegal, neither was it unconstitutional, even without presenting the NYSC certificate.
In its ruling on a suit for constitutional interpretation filed at the court in March 2021 by the firm of Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), on behalf of Adeosun, the court said since the 1979 Constitution, which was in force at the time did not recognise dual citizenship, Adeosun could not have served because she was a British citizen.
Adeosun graduated from the University of East London in 1989 at the age of 22.
The court ruled that Nigeria citizenship only reverted under the extant constitution by which time Adeosun was well above 30 and ineligible to participate in the NYSC scheme.
The court accordingly granted all reliefs sought by Adeosun’s counsel.
Reacting to the judgment in a statement in Abuja yesterday, Adeosun said she had been vindicated by the court.
She, however, added that she had a traumatic spell on the certificate forgery allegation against her.
She said the judgment of Justice Taiwo was not only a personal victory for her but for all Nigerians in the Diaspora.
She said she would take further steps at the appropriate time to protect her reputation.
Adeosun said: “My lawyers have informed me of the judgment by the Federal High Court, Abuja, in the case of Folakemi Adeosun v the Attorney-General of the Federation (FHC/ABJ/CS/303/2021) in which the court, presided over by Hon. Justice Taiwo Taiwo, ruled that the constitution does not require me to present my first-degree certificate or any other certificate, including the NYSC certificate, to be appointed a minister.
“More importantly, he also ruled that I was not eligible to perform NYSC by virtue of the constitution. This is the position I have always maintained and I am happy for this official clarification.
“The ruling vindicates me after a very traumatic spell. It is, however, not only a personal victory; it’s also a victory for many Nigerians in the Diaspora under similar conditions who are desirous to serve their country.”