Former vice presidential aide, Daniel Bwala, has explained why the Minister of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musa Musawa, cannot be a minister while serving as a National Youth Service Corps member.
Several controversies have trailed the recently appointed Minister’s qualification, even as Nigerians, including legal practitioners have cited cases and portions of the constitution prohibiting Mrs. Musawa from being a minister.
While a statement was reportedly issued last week by the Minister stating that she was qualified to take up the office even as a serving corps member, the statement was denied on Monday, as she said she has not officially replied any report.
Earlier on Tuesday, a source in the NYSC headquarters had said Mrs. Musawa was eligible to take up the role as the NYSC Act prohibits from partisan politics and not appointments.
However, in a few hours from that report, Bwala, citing a case which had been tried by the Appellate Court and the Supreme Court revealed that Mrs. Musawa cannot be a minister at this time.
In a statement titled: “WHETHER A SERVING YOUTH CORP MEMBER CAN BE A MINISTER”, Bwala juxtaposed the case involving a House of Representatives member with that of Mrs. Musawa, drawing an inference that under the Nigerian constitution, a minister is considered to be qualified for the office just as a House member.
He stated, “In the case of MODIBO v. USMAN & Ors (2019) LPELR-59096 (SC) where the appellant contested and won election into the House of Representatives while he was undergoing the national youth service. The Federal High Court ruled that a youth corps member was not qualified to contest election in Nigeria. The Court of Appeal set aside the judgment on the ground that a youth corps member is not constitutionally disqualified from contesting election.
“But the Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal erred in law and proceeded to affirm the decision of the trial court. In the leading judgment of the Supreme Court in Modibbo v Usman, Eko JSC stated inter alia: “It appears that the lower court had suggested quite obliquely that the appellant, an undoubted NYSC member and indeed any NYSC member, could combine the full time activities as a member of the House of Representatives. That to me appears absurd. The lower court failed to be guided by the overall public policy in the National Youth Service Act.
“Neither the lower court nor the appellant satisfactorily addressed the point raised by the trial court and the 1st Respondent/cross appellant that public policy “under National Youth Service Corps (NYSC scheme and the Bye-Law (Revised) 2011 made pursuant to the NYSC Act forbids a corps member from going into politics” or holding a partisan political appointment.”
“In his contribution to the leading judgment, Okoro JSC had this to say; “Also, it is not in dispute that the appellant was still a serving corps member at the time he contested and “won” the primary election. This was a clear violation of section 2 (1) and (3) of the National Youth Service Corps Act and section 4 (9) of the National Youth Service Corps Bye-Laws (Revised 2011). The court below was wrong to suggest that the appellant could combine full time activities as a member of the House of Representatives with his primary assignment as a Corps member.
“By virtue of section 2 of the NYSC Act, a person called upon to serve in the service Corps is under an obligation to serve for a continuous period of one year from the date specified in the call-up letter. Section 4 (9) of the NYSC Bye Laws (Revised 2011) provides as follows: Every member shall “Not take part in partisan politics. Any member who takes part in partisan politics is liable to extension of service for a period not less than three (3) months without pay.’
“By section 13 (i) (3) and (5) of the NYSC Act, it is an offence not to make oneself available for the service for a continuous period of one year as prescribed in section 2 of the Act. The section also prescribes punishment for an employer which aids or abets a Corps member to contravene the provisions of the Act.
“It is instructive to note that the National Youth Service Corps Decree has been validated by section 315 (5) of the 1999 Constitution. The appellant could therefore not be eligible to contest the said primary election while still undergoing the compulsory one year service period. The law will not allow the appellant in this appeal to benefit from his wrongful act. See Solanke v Abed (1962) 1 SCNLR 37.”
“Having been proved to have contravened some provisions of the National Youth Service Act and Bye-Laws, Augie JSC said: “With a prison sentence hanging over his head, if he refuses to make himself available for his NYSC, the appellant cannot be a member of the House of Representative and Youth Corper at the same time.
“REMEMBER UNDER OUR LAW, THE QUALIFICATION TO BE A MINISTER IS THE SAME AS THE QUALIFICATION TO BE A HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MEMBER.”