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Certificate Case: NYSC’s Effort To Halt Mbah’s Suit Denied

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On Friday, the Federal High Court in Abuja ruled in favour of Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu state by dismissing a preliminary objection filed by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). 

The objection sought to prevent further proceedings on a N20 billion lawsuit against the organization.

The court, presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo, unequivocally established its jurisdiction to adjudicate on the case, dismissing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)’s counterargument.

Pointing to a misinterpretation of the law, the court rebuffed the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) for claiming that Governor Mbah had not satisfied certain conditions before bringing the matter to court.

Based on the affidavit submitted to the court, Justice Ekwo issued an interim injunction on May 15, prohibiting the NYSC from issuing or publicising a disclaimer disavowing the certificate of service presented by Governor Mbah as proof of qualification to run in the gubernatorial election held on March 18 in Enugu state.

As part of its directive, the court instructed that the restraining order be officially served on Mr. Ibrahim Muhammad, the Director of Corps Certification at the NYSC.

Before the court, Governor Mbah disclosed that following his graduation in law from the University of East London in 2000, he returned to Nigeria and fulfilled the necessary requirement to practice as a lawyer by applying and gaining admission into the Bar Part 1 programme at the Nigerian Law School.

Read also: Peter Mbah Drags NYSC To Court, Seeks ₦20bn Damages

‘The plaintiff upon completing the Bar Part 1 exam had to wait for the Bar Part II programme. He was advised that instead of spending time idling around should proceed to the mandatory one-year NYSC programme.’

‘The plaintiff was initially posted to Nigerian Ports Authority Apapa Quays for his primary assignment but was rejected by NPA. Subsequently, the plaintiff secured the law firm of Ude & Associates.’

‘Thereafter, the plaintiff was re-mobilized to finish the NYSC programme, which he did completed.’

His testimony in court included the fact that he answered the NYSC call and was posted to Lagos, where he fulfilled his responsibilities as a dedicated corps member.

Governor Mbah stated that the NYSC’s decision to publish a disclaimer disowning his certificate was a calculated move aimed at harming his public image.

Cited as 1st and 2nd defendants in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/611/2023, are the NYSC and its Director, Corps Certification, Muhammad.

In response, the defendants presented an objection through their legal representatives led by Aminu Sadauki, contesting the court’s authority to handle the matter.

The defendants argued that Governor Mbah’s course of action should have been to submit a petition to the Presidency if he had any objections to the NYSC’s actions or statements about his certificate, rather than opting for immediate court involvement.

In their plea to the court, the defendants stressed that Governor Mbah did not use the opportunity provided by Section 20 of the NYSC Act before instituting the legal action.

The governor, however, pleaded with the court to reject the preliminary objection, stating that it lacked any valid basis.

In his defense, he contended that the provisions of Section 20 of the NYSC Act do not pertain to his case, as he is neither a current corps member nor an employee of the organisation.

Justice Ekwo, in his ruling on Friday, sided with the governor’s argument, recognizing that the specified section is relevant solely to serving corps members.

‘I am minded to agree with the Plaintiff on whom the provision of Section 20 of te NYSC Act, 2004 applies. This means that the provision has a category of persons to whom it is applicable.’

‘A keen perusal of the provision of Section 22 (1) and (2) of the Act would reveal that it sets out the person to whom the provision of S. 20 of the Act applies, which is a ‘member of the service corps’, which is defined to mean a person registered as a member of the service corps.’

‘It is then stated in Section 21 (2) that for the purpose of the Act, the reference to a ‘member of the service corps’ includes, unless to the context otherwise requires or it is otherwise expressly provided, a prospective member of the service corps or any person who is a registered member.’

‘It is rather sad that the objection of the defendant (NYSC) has been used to waste the time of this court. This objection is hereby struck out.’

‘The substantive matter is adjourned to September 21 and 22, 2023, for hearing,’ Justice Ekwo held.

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