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Sagay on Adeosun’s certificate scandal: I don’t bloody care if she did youth service or not

ITSE Sagay, a professor of law and head of the Presidential Advisory Committee on ANti-Corruption (PACAC), says he does not “bloody care” whether Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, did youth service or not, but she will remain in office.

Adeosun has been in the news for some time for allegedly falsifying a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate without which she would not be eligible to work in Nigeria.

It is mandatory for any Nigerian who graduated from the university before the age of 30 to participate in a one-year national service, otherwise, such a one will not be eligible to be employed by either the government or the private sector.

A Nigerian who graduates at or above the age of 30 is legally exempted from the NYSC scheme and is issued an exemption certificate.

But Adeosun, having graduated from a London University at the age of 22, and having worked in the UK before returning to Nigeria, was not eligible for an NYSC exemption certificate, but she allegedly procured one fraudulently, using it to gain employment into several top private organisations in Nigeria.

Adeosun has also served as a finance commissioner in Ogun State before being appointed finance minister by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It has been 33 days since Premium Times blew the whistle on Adeosun’s certificate forgery, but the federal government has remained tight-lipped over the matter. Both President Buhari and Adeosun have carried on like all is well.

Speaking to The Nation during an interview on Thursday, Itse Sagay said Adeosun is one of the brightest minds in Buhari’s cabinet and the issue of her participation in the NYSC was irrelevant.

“Let me tell you my reaction. This woman is a brilliant and extremely valuable member of this government,” he said.

“A lot of the good things happening now – the welfare that Nigerians are enjoying and are going to enjoy, because it takes time, and the way our economy is booming, how we got out of recession – are due to her expertise, her commitment, her sacrifice.

“There is nothing in this world that will make me remove such a woman from the government. The PDP can weep from now until there is no tear in their body; she is going to be there. We cannot afford to lose that woman.

“Who cares about youth service? I don’t bloody care whether she did youth service or not. It’s irrelevant as far as I am concerned.

“I don’t believe it. I don’t see anything serious about not doing youth service. I don’t see anything serious about it. That’s my own bias, not government’s.

“I’m telling you now. If I were President Buhari, I would never, ever touch that woman because she’s damn good.”

Sagay had made similar comments in July this year when the report on Adeosun’s certificate forgery was published, saying that “as far as I am concerned, there is nothing against her right now”.

“I think the onus should be on the NYSC since she applied and got a certificate. If that is not contradicted, they should just leave her alone but if it is contradicted, then there would be an issue to consider.”

But the NYSC only said that Adeosun applied for an exemption; it did not say when the application was made or whether it was approved.

However, Sagay’s position that Adeosun is too valuable an asset for the Buhari administration to let go, does not detract from the criminal accusation against the minister – forgery.

Forgery is a criminal offence in Nigeria, punishable under section 467 of the Criminal Code Actwhich states thus: “Any person who forges any document, writing, or seal, is guilty of an offence which, unless otherwise stated, is a felony, and he is liable, if no other punishment is provided, to imprisonment for three years.”

When The ICIR tried to contact Sagay on Friday to throw more light on the issue, his mobile phone number was not available.

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