The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP in Kwara State in the forthcoming general elections, Razak Atunwa, is alleged not to have participated in the one year compulsory national youth service scheme, Premium Times can authoritatively report today.
Instead, it was alleged that he procured a forged discharge certificate of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which he submitted to the PDP to prove his eligibility for public office.
The fresh revelation about Mr. Atunwa came about four months after Premium Times exposed then finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, for engaging in similar conduct, and just a little over a month since the embattled official was forced to resign as a result of the scandal.
The NYSC law requires every Nigerian who attended university or polytechnic to participate in the national youth scheme for one year after graduation, provided the person finished before the age 30.
Failure to serve would prohibit such individual from gainful employment in Nigeria, and making false claims about serving could attract up to 14 years in jail.
Also, anyone who graduated before 30 but deliberately declined to serve has committed a crime that could attract 12-month imprisonment, even if the person did not forge NYSC documents.
Only a person who obtained a degree after 30 or served in the military or won the national honors medal would qualify for an exemption certificate under the NYSC law.
Mr. Atunwa, born on October 17, 1969, said he studied law at the University of East London, graduating in 1992 at age 23.
Having earned a bachelor’s degree at 23, Mr. Atunwa, going by Section 2 of the NYSC Act, should have participated in the year-long national service.
But rather than present himself for national service, Mr. Atunwa stayed back in the United Kingdom, returning only in 2005 to join the cabinet of then Governor Bukola Saraki in Kwara State at the age of 36.
Between 2005 and 2010 when he stepped down to run for office, the politician was a commissioner at four different ministries, including Land and Housing, Works and Transport, Information and Home Affairs and Finance.
It was not immediately clear whether or not Mr. Atunwa presented any NYSC document to authorities since 2005 when he was first appointed a commissioner, 2011 when he became speaker and 2015 when he became a member of the House of Representatives.
But to secure the PDP governorship ticket on October 1, he submitted a counterfeit NYSC discharge certificate and accompanied it with an affidavit, indicating he lied on oath, an offense that attracts up to 14 years in jail.