Group sues NYSC over ‘illegal’ fees collection from prospective corps members
A non governmental organisation, Citizens Advocacy Initiative for Accountability Leadership (CAIFAL) has sued the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at the federal high court, Lagos for charging a mandatory N3000 call-up letter fee from prospective youth corps members, contrary to its enabling law.
The group said officials of the Corps, in connivance with a private company, Sidmach Technologies Limited, charged N3000 fee to prospective corps members to print out their call-up letters before they are mobilised for the mandatory national youth service in clear contravention of its enabling laws.
They therefore urged federal government to make fight against corruption all inclusive by investigating the alleged violation of the National Youth Service Corps Act by its officials.
Addressing a press conference after filing the action yesterday, the groups chairman, board of trustees, Chief Tony Dania; managing director, Mr. Yusuf Ayonote and secretary of the board of directors, Mr. Babatunde Atobatele, said the suit is to get a court pronouncement, halting the alleged ‘illegality’.
“Since 2014, NYSC introduced the payment of N3,000 as fees paid by graduating Nigerian students popularly referred to as “Prospective Corps Members” (PCM), who are to be “mobilized”/“conscripted” into the one year “compulsory” and ‘mandatory’ service to their fatherland.
“The service by PCM is mandatory and compulsory. It is a must that a PCM must be mobilized, he or She has no choice, as it is a criminal offence, under the NYSC Act, for a qualified Nigerian Youth to refuse to submit himself or herself for such mobilization, except those exempted for been above the age limit of 30 years, and as provided in the NYSC Act. It is also an offence for any Employer in Nigeria to employ any Nigerian Graduate who does not have the Certificate of National Service or exemption certificate, as the case may be.
“Based on the above, and by virtue of the provisions of Sections 1(1),(2)&(3)(c), 2(1) (particularly the proviso thereof), (2)&(3), 9(2), 13(1) of the National Youth Service Corps Act 1993, and Sections 6(1) and 315(1)(a)&(5)(a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the inevitable conclusion is that the action of NYSC management since 2014 till date, (to charge Nigerian Young Graduates or PCM money, as a condition precedent for them to be mobilized to participate in the NYSC and to be re-deployed after been mobilized, without recourse to the enabling Act, and whereas the NYSC programme is a compulsory exercise and a scheme which gives the PCMs, no choice, as to whether they want to participate in the scheme or not, and which makes it a criminal offence under the NYSC Act 1993, if a graduate, who is not exempted, refused to be mobilized), is very wrong, improper, fraudulent, illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, condemnable and conspicuously contradictory to the positive change and anti-corruption policies of the current Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari”, they stated.
CAIFAL said NYSC should be made to account for the monies so far realized from the previous collections, and that the perpetrators should be punished according to the Law. “The Perpetrators of these fraudulent Charges have claimed that the fees collecting project was a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. The question is: does that confer the right on them to abuse their offices and violate the Law setting up the NYSC, and even the Constitution?” it querried.
According to them, NYSC claimed to have entered into a Public Private Partnership arrangement that gave Sidmach 70% or 60% of the proceeds and the balance to the NYSC, but added that no money has been remitted into the Federation Account or the NYSC Account.
“Our investigation also revealed that the Finance Department of the NYSC has vehemently denied the illegal collection of those fees and claimed ignorance of where the money so far realized was kept or how it was expended.
“This instant NYSC fraud is worse than the similar alleged scam cases, currently been prosecuted by the “new” EFCC. The service provider, Sidmach, claimed that only N1.3 Billion has so far been realized from the fees so far collected. The NYSC declared that it mobilized between 300,000 and 350,000 Corps Members per year, which amounts to 700,000 for 2014-2015 batch, so, if the 2016 batch A is added thereto, that is about 800,000 to 900,000 Mobilized Corps Members, multiplied by N3,000 paid by each Participant, we have about N2.4 Billion Naira. Where is the Money?
“The N1,000 re-deployment fees collected from any of the Mobilized Corps Member, who want to be re-deployed, was not been taken into consideration when we arrived at the N2. 4 Billion stated above”, they said.
The group which added that such infractions are common in government ministries and agencies called on security agencies, especially the Economic and Fiancial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to quickly investigate the alleged fraud and prosecute the culprits.