The National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) has reacted to the exclusive story published by PREMIUM TIMES detailing how finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, skipped the mandatory national service and used a forged certificate to cover for it.
The story has generated outrage from Nigerians who called for an official investigation and asked the minister to resign from her post or be fired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Details published by this newspaper on Monday show that the certificate is among the set of documents submitted by the minister for her appointment and screening in 2015.
Speaking for the first time since the news broke, NYSC’s Director of Public Relations, Adenike Adeyemi, said the service is working towards responding to PREMIUM TIMES’s request for verification of Mrs Adeosun’s certificate.
This newspaper first wrote to the NYSC on April 16, 2018 requesting for the verification. After weeks of silence and promises, the paper’s editors decided to re-channel the request into a Freedom of Information request.
This followed disappointment suffered by journalists working on the story when the formal letter that was to be issued on June 1 by the corps was suddenly withheld.
A reporter who was at the NYSC headquarters on Thursday, May 31, was told to come back the next day to pick up the organisation’s response to their letter, following scrutiny that afternoon that confirmed that “Folakemi Adeosun” was not in the register.
However, on arriving on Friday, June 1 to pick the response, a new decision was announced: the NYSC officials said the verification has been channelled to the organisation’s ICT unit to check its “electronic database.”
PREMIUM TIMES had made a payment of N2,000 through federal government’s Remita platform. The Remita receipt was later swapped with an official receipt of the NYSC at the organisation’s Account Department. The receipt is numbered 711133.
Frustrated by the sudden back-tracking, on June 8, the newspaper delivered a Freedom of Information request to the NYSC headquarters which is yet to be responded to.
The FoI Act mandates agencies to respond to requests within one week or write to seek for extension if unable to comply with the stipulated time.
But speaking to a PREMIUM TIMES reporter on Monday, Mrs Adeyemi attributed the delay to the need by the organisation to “get a little more time to get the records straight.”
Below is the text of the director’s interview with our reporter.
PREMIUM TIMES: What is the NYSC’s response to our request for verification of the certificate being paraded by the finance minister, Kemi Adeosun?
MRS ADEYEMI: You have sent in a request wanting to know, subjecting that certificate to verification. I agree with you, the request has been received at the NYSC headquarters, and you would want the NYSC to verify that certificate which you said was submitted by the honourable minister. The NYSC as a public institution and organisation where some information is domiciled for public interest will definitely not hoard any information. But whatever we are releasing from this organisation, from our tables, must definitely be subjected to every test so that when we say this is verified or not verified we stand by our words. Your request has been received and is being worked upon and the moment the verification process is concluded you will be given the right response. At no point in time will the NYSC, being a public institution, not respond to public enquiry. Any enquiry will be responded to and, definitely, everything that would come from our organisation would have been subjected to every test of integrity and having passed the test of integrity, which we uphold very dearly, the response will be given. You may just need to give a little more time so that the verification process goes through every stage and at the end of the day when anything is being said on the verification we can stand by it. We can say we have done every test of integrity.
PREMIUM TIMES: Why is it taking this long?
MRS ADEYEMI: There are occasions when you need to…we are talking about records of the past. There are occasions where some information you may have to search very well and through different places; particularly too, the organisation moved sometimes from Area 3 (in Abuja) to the present headquarters. So there are various times when (for) some information, you need a little extra time to get your record straight. But we don’t want ever to give out information when every test has not been carried out. Just give us a little more time and we will get back to you.