The Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) has filed a lawsuit against the Minister of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa.
Recall that in August 2023, the public was hit with the news of Musawa serving as a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) had argued that she could not be the minister at the same time she was serving.
HURIWA alleged that Musawa abandoned her NYSC in Ebonyi State some years but later showed interest in finishing it up during which she was mobilised in 2023 and posted to a law firm in Abuja.
NYSC’s Director, Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, had said Musawa was occupying the ministerial position in breach of the NYSC Act.
Megwa had told Daily Trust that the minister, at the time, had been serving for eight months in the FCT, explaining that it was against the NYSC Act for any corps member to pick up any government appointment until the one-year service was over.
Challenging the action, NBA-SPIDEL, in the suit number FHC/ABJ/05/90/2024 filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, sought determinations on whether Musawa could voluntarily decide when to undergo the mandatory NYSC scheme.
The group joined music producer, Kenny Ogungbe, in the suit, which listed the NYSC and the Federal Government of Nigeria as defendants for allegedly enabling or failing to prevent the violations.
In October 2023, there were reactions on social media when Ogungbe shared a photo of himself in the NYSC uniform, announcing that he had finished NYSC at the age of 53.
NBA-SPIDEL questioned the validity of the discharge certificates awarded to both Musawa and Ogungbe by the NYSC.
It alleged that the minister and the entertainer failed to participate in the mandatory one-year NYSC after graduating from university as demanded by the NYSC Act.
The lawyers claimed that Musawa enrolled in NYSC in 2023 but did not complete the service year, while Ogungbe only enrolled over 30 years after obtaining his bachelor’s degree.
According to the legal organisation, the lawsuit filed also argued that their actions violated sections of the NYSC Act linked to the requirement for Nigerian graduates under the age of 30 to undergo national service.
It, then, requested the court to nullify their NYSC discharge certificates, prohibit Musawa from public office, and compel the Federal Government to prosecute the defendants.
The plaintiff disclosed that the lawsuit targeted to promote the objectives of the NYSC scheme related to instilling discipline and national ethos in Nigerian youth.
The lawsuit was filed at the time President Bola Tinubu battles corruption in his own cabinet as the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, undergoing investigation of the N585 million scandal.
Edu’s alleged fraud also named the Interior Minister, Hon Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, whose company was part of the involvement, an allegation he played down.