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Candidates who skip NYSC scheme can contest elections – Court

A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court has said that graduates who did not participate in the National Youth Service Corps scheme (NYSC) could not be disqualified from an election.

The court’s proclamation came on the backdrop of a suit brought against Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state, by Iyabo Anisulowo, a former senator from the state.

In December, TheCable had reported how the governor was enmeshed in allegations of perjury over his post-secondary school qualifications.

It was discovered that Governor Abiodun did not participate in the year-long compulsory NYSC programme, though he finished his First degree in 1986 — going by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) form CF001 that he filled ahead of the 2015 election, supported by an affidavit.

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But, on Wednesday, in a pre-election suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/34/1019, the former senator is seeking disqualification of Governor Abiodun as the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), saying that he (Abiodun) skipped the NYSC Scheme.

The governor’s counsel, Wale Ajayi, had requested that the court set aside the case, since it was never stated that the participation in the NYSC scheme was a criterion to hold public office.

In his judgment, M. A. Mohammed dismissed the first Defendant’s Notice of Preliminary Objection and proceeded to deliver judgment on the substantive suit.

The judge held that the Plaintiff, Anisulowo, could not to establish that the governor presented false academic claims to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Justice Mohammed also held that the NYSC Act does not make provision for the disqualification of a candidate who failed to participate in its scheme.

He said that a candidate could only be disqualified under Section 177 of the Constitution which states that “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a State if:

(a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth;

(b) he has attained the age of thirty-five years;

(c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and

(d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”

The case was, thereby, dismissed.

Following the judgement, candidates seeking to contest for governorship elections would no longer need to present NYSC certificates.

The Supreme Court also dismissed a similar suit, on Monday, after Abdulrafiu Baruwa approached it to challenge the qualification of Governor Abiodun on the grounds of failure to disclose all his academic qualifications.