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NYSC; Consequences Of Failing To Report For National Service

NYSC; Consequences Of Failing To Report For National Service. 

By Nwakor Oluchukwu N. Gospel


The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has come to stay in Nigeria since the year 1973 when it was first introduced for the purpose of fostering national unity and cohesion. The other purposes are for proper encouragement and development of common ties among the Nigerian Youths, promotion of national unity; and the development of the Nigerian Youth and Nigeria into a great and dynamic economy. The scheme was created in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war. 

It is a compulsory one year national service to the nation which must be undergone by all graduates of any university in Nigeria, or holders of a National Diploma Certificate, National Certificate of Education or other professional qualification; unless such a person meets the conditions of being exempted from engaging in the activity. 


The NYSC Act provides for the conditions for a person to be exempted from the NYSC programme. It includes persons who at the date of their graduation or obtaining their diploma or other professional qualification – 

  1. they are over the age of thirty; or 
  2. they have served in the armed forces of the Federation or the Nigeria Police Force for a period of more than nine months; or 
  3. they are members of staff of any of the following, that is – 
  1. the State Security Service, or 
  2. the National Intelligence Agency, or 
  3. the Defence Intelligence Agency; or 
  1. they have been conferred with any National Honour. 


In the recent years, students, graduates and some NYSC participants have strongly argued that the NYSC programme should not be compulsory as it is against their choices and rights. This argument is misconceived. It is true that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999 as amended, in Section 34(1) grants the right to dignity of human person and provides that no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour. However, in Section 34(2) (e) (iii), it provides amongst others that forced or compulsory labour does not extend to “such compulsory national service which forms part of the education and training of citizens of Nigeria as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly. It is under this provision of the Constitution as well as the provisions of the NYSC Act of 1973 that the compulsory nature of the NYSC programme enjoys its legality and compulsoriness. Hence, unless exempted, one is expected to be compulsorily part of the NYSC programme. 


Failure to compulsorily report for the national services makes the defaulter liable to certain punishments prescribed by law, thus:

Any person who fails to report for service in the service corps in the manner directed by the Directorate or as the case may be, prescribed pursuant to the provisions of the NYSC Act; or who refuses to make himself available for service in the service corps continuously for the period specified in subsection (2) of this section, is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of N2000 or to imprisonment for a term of 12 months or to both such fine and imprisonment. The implication of this is that such a person will be arrested, tried and if found guilty, convicted of the offence.


The NYSC Scheme although currently plagued with the national challenges of insecurity and unemployment remains a statutory establishment which has been helpful in the integration of youths and in the promotion of intercultural unity. 


Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended

National Youth Service Corps Act 1973


This work is published under the free legal awareness project of Sabi Law Foundation ( funded by the law firm of Bezaleel Chambers International ( The writer was not paid or charged any publishing fee. You too can support the legal awareness projects and programs of Sabi Law Foundation by donating to us. Donate here and get our unique appreciation certificate or memento.


This publication is not a piece of legal advice. The opinion expressed in this publication is that of the author(s) and not necessarily the opinion of our organisation, staff and partners.


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