The Court of Appeal in Ibadan, Oyo State, has upheld the legality, validity and constitutionality of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
Delivering judgment in the appeal filed by one Mr. Oluwole Aluko asking President Muhammadu Buhari to scrap the NYSC scheme, the court dismissed the suit on the grounds that it was lacking in merit.
Against the background of some incidences of violence and death of youth corps members at their places of primary assignment, Aluko, a lawyer, had at the Federal High Court in Ibadan challenged the constitutionality of the NYSC Act.
He asked the court to hold that the NYSC Act was inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution.
The plaintiff also argued that the NYSC programme constituted a threat to right to life, right to liberty and amounted to forced labour and slavery, and ought to be scrapped.
His originating summons raised questions of law on whether the NYSC Act provides for servitude and forced labour and as such inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution.
In its judgment, the court dismissed the suit on the grounds that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to file the suit.
The court held that since the plaintiff, a legal practitioner was not a serving corps member, he had no cause of action and therefore lacks the capacity to institute the suit.
Dissatisfied, Aluko proceeded to the Court of Appeal.
In affirming the judgment of the lower court, Justice Nonyerem Okoronkwo while delivering the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal, dismissed the appeal in its entirety for lacking in merit.
The appellate court agreed with the submissions of Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), counsel to the president, that there can be no inconsistent provisions of the constitution itself, and held that the NYSC Act was a part of the Constitution by virtue of Section 315 (5) of the Constitution.
The court was of the view that since the Constitution was the supreme law of the land and the validity of all laws was measured by their reference to it, the NYSC Act having been incorporated into the Constitution, could not be said to be inconsistent with the Constitution or any provisions thereof.
The court stated that the NYSC Act could not be abrogated except by an alteration of the Constitution in the manner specified in Section 9(2) of the Constitution.
The court held: “The NYSC Act appears to be a piece of legislation that conforms to the essence of section 4(2) of the Constitution i.e. for the peace, order and good government of the federation.”
It also held that the appellant lacked the requisite locus standi to maintain the action, and had failed to show that the NYSC Act was inconsistent with sections 33 and 35 pertaining to right to life and liberty or “was in anyway inimical to the life or good livelihood” of Nigerians.
The court held that nothing has shown that the NYSC Act impinges on the right to life under any law.
It added that calling up of members of the NYSC under section 2 of the Act is not a deprivation of liberty and that any person so affected may apply for exemption under section 2(2) & (4) of the NYSC Act.
NYSC was set up in 1973 for the sole purpose of integrating Nigerian youths.