A Federal High Court in Abuja says a candidate cannot be disqualified from an election for failure to participate in the National Youth Service Corps scheme.
The court made this pronouncement on Wednesday when it struck out a suit brought against the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, by a former senator, Iyabo Anisulowo.
The judge noted that the plaintiff failed to establish that Mr Abiodun presented false academic claims to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He held that the NYSC Act does not stipulate that a candidate who failed to participate in the NYSC scheme be disqualified from elections.
The judge pointed out that a candidate can only be disqualified based on Section 177 of the Constitution, and subsequently dismissed the suit.
The section states: “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 pre-election suit challenged the eligibility of Mr Abiodun over his failure to participate in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
The presentation of the NYSC discharge certificate awarded at the end of the one-year scheme is a requirement for employment into the formal sector in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that last year, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) disqualified the then Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, from running in its governorship primaries in Oyo State after it was discovered that he skipped the NYSC scheme after taking a degree in Law in the late 1970s.
Despite the revelation that he dodged the NYSC, President Muhammadu Buhari allowed Mr Shittu to remain as minister until the dissolution of the federal executive council last month.
The NYSC was established in 1973 and participation is mandatory for all Nigerians who graduate from a tertiary institution in or outside the country before they attain the age of 30.
An exemption certificate is awarded only to Nigerians who are older than 25 years when they graduated, those serving in the military or security forces or those exempted on health ground.
The implication of the judgment is that candidates seeking election to contest governorship elections in Nigeria no longer need to present NYSC certificates.