Following the failure to act on the request asking the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to publish the exemption certificate of the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the NYSC Director General, Brigadier General Sule Kazaure and the NYSC.
The suit is also seeking to compel the NYSC to “explain if Adeosun obtained any Exemption Certificate from the NYSC.”
According to SERAP, in the suit number FHC/L/CS/1369/18 filed yesterday at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, the group is seeking “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and/or compelling General Kazaure and the NYSC to urgently provide specific documents and information on Mrs Kemi Adeosun’s application to the NYSC for Exemption and to publish widely including on a dedicated and on the NYSC website, any such information.”
On August 2, 2018, SERAP had given the NYSC seven days to provide “information on specific details and documents on the Exemption Certificate applied for and obtained by Mrs Adeosun; clarify whether the NYSC actually granted her the Exemption Certificate and if it did, the circumstances and the provisions of the NYSC Act under which the Exemption Certificate was granted.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Bamisope Adeyanju, read in part: “Suspicions of obtaining unauthorised certificate involving a senior member of the government if not urgently and satisfactorily addressed would weaken public trust in the government’s oft-expressed commitment to transparency and accountability.
“By the combined provisions of section 104(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011 and sections 14(2)(b) 14(3) and 19(2) of the Freedom of Information Act, the NYSC, being the public institution in charge of issuing exemption certificates from the compulsory NYSC Programme, and having publicly declared that Mrs. Adeosun applied for exemption, has a duty to provide SERAP with details and documents containing the application for exemption and the exemption certificate itself, if it was granted.
“Mandamus lies to secure the performance of a public duty in the performance which SERAP has a sufficient legal interest. SERAP has shown that it has demanded the performance of the duty by the NYSC in this case, and that performance has been refused by the Director General of the NYSC obliged to discharge it.
“The right of access to information should be subject to a narrow, carefully tailored system of exceptions. Exceptions should apply only where there is a risk of substantial harm to the protected interest and where that harm is greater than the overriding public interest in having access to the information.
“SERAP requested the NYSC to provide the information within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of the letter. But since the receipt of the letter by the NYSC and up till the filing of this suit, the NYSC has failed, refused and/or neglected to respond to or grant SERAP’s request.”
“This matter is of utmost national importance and public interest, because it borders on allegations of circumvention of the law, brought against a high public officer of Nigeria, who has sworn on oath to uphold the laws of the nation; including the NYSC Act. The grant of this application will help reveal the truth about the authenticity of the Exemption Certificate granted to Mrs Adeosun.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.