SERAP slams seven-day ultimatum on NYSC over Adeosun’s exemption certificate

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has
issued a seven-day ultimatum to Brigadier-General Sule Kazaure,
Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to provide
information on specific details and documents on the Exemption
Certificate granted to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

The organisation threatened to institute a legal action against the
Scheme, if the NYSC failed to do so within the period.

SERAP, in a statement by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, said it
needs the information to determine if alleged crime of forgery has
been committed, and if so, to consider possible action in the
circumstances, including but not limited to asking the
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr
Abubakar Malami SAN, to pursue prosecution.

In an FOI request dated August 2 2018 and also signed by Adewale, the
organization said, "By providing information and documents on the
Exemption Certificate, the NYSC would help put an end to any
insinuation of complicity and show that the institution can embrace
transparency and accountability in the discharge of its statutory
mandates. This would in turn contribute to improved integrity and
public image of the NYSC.

"Mrs Adeosun remains innocent until the allegations against her are
properly tested and proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of
competent jurisdiction based on relevant admissible evidence. But the
continuing silence by the NYSC management on the matter may create an
impression that an offence may have been committed, and lead to
accusation that the management has something to hide.

"We urge you and the entire NYSC management and leadership to open-up
on the matter and provide information and documents as requested. This
will be one step in the right direction. If the information is not
provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this
letter, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate
legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to
comply with our request.

"SERAP is concerned about the perceived lack of transparency and
accountability of the NYSC management and leadership in this matter,
which has seriously undermined public trust and confidence in the NYSC
as a public institution established to serve the public interests.

"SERAP notes that following allegations of NYSC Exemption Certificate
forgery against Mrs Adeosun, the NYSC management issued a statement
confirming that she did apply for an Exemption Certificate and
promising to 'investigate the origin of the purported Exemption
Certificate in question.

"However, we are concerned that the statement lacks specificity as to
whether Mrs Adeosun was issued the Exemption Certificate. Further,
although the statement was issued on 9 July 2018, the NYSC management
has so far failed and/or neglected to publish the outcome of the
investigation it promised. Nigerians are also entitled to the right to
truth derived from the obligations of the government and its
institutions to carry out an investigation into allegations of issues
like forgery that have been levelled against Mrs Adeosun.

"By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011, SERAP
is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information,
including information on the circumstances and the provisions of the
NYSC Act under which any NYSC Exemption Certificate was granted to Mrs
Adeosun.

"By Section 4 (a) of the FOI Act when a person makes a request for
information from a public official, institution or agency, the public
official, institution or urgency to whom the application is directed
is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the
information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act,
within 7 days after the application is received."

"By Sections 2(3)(d)(V) & (4) of the FOI Act, there is a binding legal
duty to ensure that documents containing information relating to the
granting of any NYSC Exemption Certificate are widely disseminated and
made readily available to members of the public through various means.
The information being requested does not come within the purview of
the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of
the FOI Act. The information requested for bothers on an issue of
national interest, public concern, good governance, transparency and
accountability."

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