Olu Omotayo, a Civil Rights lawyer has given the proper procedure for suing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)
Omotayo, who is the President of the Civil Right Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN) said the law mandates the aggrieved party to write a petition to the President of Nigeria in compliance with the provisions of Section 20, NYSC Act 1993, for an action to be instituted against the scheme.
He maintained that suing the scheme without writing to the President would render the action futile, adding that the jurisdiction of the court cannot be properly activated without following the precedent.
CRRAN made this known while speaking to journalists in Enugu following the Federal High Court, Abuja adjournment to September to deliver her ruling in the suit initiated against NYSC by the Governor of Enugu State, Barr. Peter Mbah.
“It is no news that the Federal High Court Abuja has adjourned to September 22nd 2023, to deliver her ruling in the suit instituted against National Youth Service Corps by the Governor of Enugu State.
“His legal team had instituted the suit in court against the National Youth Service Corps without stating whether he had petitioned the President of Nigeria to seek redress over the said nefarious activities made in his complaint against the Director General of the National Youth Service Corps.
“We are not going to look at the merits of this case but we only look at the position of law whether an aggrieved party can maintain an action against the National Youth Service Corps without first writing to the President to seek redress.
“We humbly submit that it would be an exercise in futility for an aggrieved party to institute an action against the National Youth Service Corps without first writing to the President of Nigeria, to seek redress in compliance with the provisions of Section 20 NYSC Act 1993.
“The Court reinforced the mandatory nature of Section 20 NYSC Act 1993 in the case OKAFOR-ONYILO v. NYSC & ORS (2020) LPELR-51827(CA), where the court held thus:
“It is contended for the respondents that by virtue of Section 20 of the NYSC Act, there was a condition precedent that ought to have been fulfilled by the appellant before recourse is had to the Court, that failure to fulfil the condition precedent, in this case, rendered the suit premature and therefore not ripe for hearing.
"This indeed is the position of the law. For the avoidance of doubt, Section 20 of the NYSC Act provides:
“Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 19 of this Act, any person aggrieved by any decision of the Directorate or by the exercise by the Directorate of any power under this Act shall have the right of appeal to the presidency in the first instance and the Presidency may, notwithstanding anything to the contrary to this Act and subject to the approval of the National Defence and Security Council confirm or reverse the decision of the Directorate or take such further measures in relation to the appeal as he may think just before any action may be commenced in any Court of law in Nigeria.” Per MUSTAPHA, J.C.A at (Pp. 17-23 paras. E-E)
“The Court of Appeal in OKAFOR-ONYILO Case, further stated that this provision of the law is clearly a condition precedent to the commencement of an action in a Court of law; because in principle, Section 20 of the NYSC Act simply seeks to resolve grievances one may have against decisions of the Directorate before recourse is had to Court.
“It is the considered opinion of the Court that the failure of the appellant to satisfy the condition precedent as provided by Section 20 of the NYSC Act rendered his application for fundamental rights enforcement premature and not ripe for adjudication in a Court of law.
“But In AKPUCHUKWU V. NYSC & ANOR (2018) LPELR-44619(CA), the Appellant a lawyer followed the necessary procedure and in compliance with Section 20 NYSC Act petitioned the President.
“In allowing the Appellant appeal the Court stated thus: “Sec. 11 of the NYSC Act 1993 states that –
“The Directorate shall, on completion of the service of a member of the service corps, unless such person is exempted under Section 17 of this Act, issue him with a certificate of National Service which shall contain such particulars as may be prescribed.”
“By virtue of Section 12 of the Act, the refusal and/or failure to give the Appellant a discharge certificate deprives him of employment opportunity.
“The Appellant is not expected to wait forever to hear from the President before going to Court. The Respondents did not reply to his letter, neither did the President. Is he expected to remain unemployed?” Pg 17 paras A-D,” he explained.