Ndume Reintroduces Peace Corps Bill In Senate

A file photo of the Peace Corps Office in Abuja.

 

 

The Nigerian Peace Corps (Est, etc) Bill, 2019 has been read for the first in the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly.

This followed the reintroduction of the Peace Corps Bills to the lawmakers during Tuesday’s plenary by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume.

The bill seeks to transform the Peace Corps which operates as a non-governmental organisation into a paramilitary government agency to be known as the Nigerian Peace Corps.

The 8th National Assembly had passed the Peace Corps Bill in 2017 following a protracted battle involving the organisation and security agencies in the country.

A file photo of Senator Ali Ndume.

 

 

While many Nigerians, especially the youth were hopeful that the creation of the corps would reduce the unemployment rate, the bill failed to become a law as President Muhammadu Buhari withheld his assent in February 2018.

The President had explained that he rejected the bill due to security concerns and the burden of funding the organisation by the Federal Government.

He also said the bill sought to empower the Peace Corps to undertake activities currently being performed by extant security and law enforcement agencies in the country.

Displeased with the President’s action, some members of the House of Representatives decided to revive the bill by vetoing President Buhari’s decision.

However, there was a loud negative response from members of the House when the then Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, put the motion to a voice vote in May 2018.

Confusion As Police, Peace Corps Clash In Abuja

 

There was a breakdown of law and order for several hours when policemen fired tear gas to disperse members of the Peace Corps who were protesting the continued closure of their headquarters in Jabi, Abuja.

Trouble started when fully armed police in five pick-up vans arrived at the scene and ordered the protesters to disperse immediately.

Confusion grew as the police fired gunshots into the air and also tear-gassed the protesters which comprised officers and men of the Peace Corps as well as some members of civil society groups who came out to show support for the Corps.

As police personnel moved to arrest some of the protesters, others moved in to prevent them from doing so resulting in confrontation and clashes.

Some of the protesters before the police moved in to disperse them.

 

The protesters who were affected by the tear gas after a few minutes gathered again and demanded that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, should obey a court order and show respect for the rule of law.

The clash led to panic in the area and some commuters and passersby had to contend with tear gas smoke

 

Earlier, the National Commandant of the Peace Corps, Dickson Akoh had appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the IGP to order and order the police to open the headquarters of the Peace Corps.

Akoh while addressing the protesters specifically pleaded with the Nigerian Bar Association, National Human Rights Commission, National Assembly and the Attorney General of the Federation to intervene in the quest to get their office back from the police.

Peace Corps Bill Fails As Reps Refuse To Veto Buhari

Workers Day: NASS Will Speed Up Passage Of Minimum Wage Bill – Dogara
File photo: Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara

 

Plans to revive the Peace Corps Bill, which had earlier been rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari, failed at the House of Representatives on Thursday.

The bill seeks to transform the Peace Corps which operates currently as a non-governmental organisation into a paramilitary government agency to be known as the Nigerian Peace Corps.

President Muhammadu Buhari had withheld his assent to the bill in February after the National Assembly passed it and sent it to him. The President informed the lawmakers that his decision was based on lack of funds for such an agency.

Some lawmakers were, however, unhappy with the President’s decision and decided to revive the bill by vetoing the decision.

However, when the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, put the motion to a voice vote, there was a resounding negative response from the lawmakers after which many of them left the chamber.

Again, Court Orders Police To Unseal Peace Corps' Office
File photo: Members of the Peace Corps

Senate Asks Buhari To Reconsider Decision On Peace Corps Bill

Senate Asks Buhari To Reconsider Decision On Peace Corps Bill
File photo: President Muhammadu Buhari

 

The Senate has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to reconsider his decision of withholding assent on the bill to establish Peace Corps of Nigeria.

The Upper House made the appeal during plenary on Wednesday after adopting a Point of Order raised by Senator Dino Melaye on the floor of the Senate in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

READ ALSO: Again, Court Orders Police To Unseal Peace Corps’ Office

Melaye, who represents Kogi West Senatorial district, cited Order 43 of the Senate Rules while drawing the attention of the lawmakers to the issue of the Peace Corps.

The Senate consequently asked the President to review his stance on the bill, saying they would override it with the support of the Nigerian youths.

The establishment of the Peace Corps as a government paramilitary agency has suffered a number of setbacks in the recent times, prompting the intervention of the judiciary.

Some policemen had stormed its headquarters in Abuja, arresting some officials of the agency found on the premises.

On November 9, 2017, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court in Abuja, however, awarded N12.5million fine against the police for the unlawful invasion of the Peace Corps’ headquarters.

Meanwhile, the National Commandant of Peace Corps Mr Dickson Akoh had filed an application, seeking the unsealing and vacation of the National Headquarters of the agency by the police and other security agencies, which had laid siege and barricaded the premises.

Ruling on the application in January 2018, Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the police to immediately unseal the office of the Peace Corps.

He had also ordered the police and other security agencies laying siege at the premises to vacate immediately, as well as hand over possession of the office to the organisation.

Amid high expectations that the President would give a nod to the bill passed by the National Assembly, President Buhari withheld assent to the bill on Tuesday last week.

In a letter addressed to the lawmakers, he cited security concerns and financial burden of funding the organisation by the government as his reasons for rejecting the Nigerian Peace Corps (Establishment) Bill.

Again, Court Orders Police To Unseal Peace Corps’ Office

Again, Court Orders Police To Unseal Peace Corps' Office
File photo

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Nigeria Police Force to immediately unseal the office of the Peace Corps of Nigeria in the Federal Capital Territory.

Justice John Tsoho, who gave in the ruling on Monday, also ordered the police and other security agencies laying siege at the premises of the Peace Corps Headquarters to vacate immediately, as well as hand over possession of the office to the organisation.

The court gave the order following a ruling on a motion on notice filed by Mr Dickson Akoh, the National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, and the incorporated trustees of the organisation.

The application, dated October 6, 2017, specifically sought the unsealing and vacation of the National Headquarters of the Peace Corps by the police and other security agencies, which had laid siege and barricaded the premises.

Delivering his ruling on Monday, Justice Tsoho disagreed with the police counsel that the application was an abuse of court process.

In their reply to the motion, the police sought an order of the court to grant the temporary forfeiture of the property housing the National Headquarters of the organisation.

The judge, however, the application lacked merit.

On the merit of the complainant’s application, he said: “Facts before the court glaringly showed that the police application was filed as an afterthought”.

Contrary to the claim that the police did not seal the Peace Corps office but merely maintaining normal observatory and routine patrol of a scene of a crime, Justice Tsoho noted that “it doesn’t seem to show mere police on patrol” from a picture exhibit tendered by the defendant.

He further held that the application by the police was designed to legalise an illegality already committed since February 28, 2017, when the office of the defendant was sealed.

“The court cannot be used to cover acts of illegality; in view of the foregoing, this application lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed,” the judge ruled.

It is the second time the Federal High Court would order the police to vacate the office of the Peace Corps of Nigeria.

Police Ordered To Pay N12.5m For Arresting Peace Corps Officials

Panel Probing Alleged Rights Abuses By Military Sits In Lagos
File photo

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has awarded a N12.5M fine Against the Nigeria Police for unlawful invasion of the Peace Corps.

The court also ordered the Police to unseal Peace House owned by the Peace Corps of Nigeria.

The ruling Judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole said it was on the grounds of unlawful arrest and detention of the Commandant and 49 others, and also the unlawful invasion of Peace Corps House.

Senate Steps Down Passage Of Peace Corps Bill

The Senate has halted the passage of a bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps.

The Senate took the decision on Tuesday after many senators, included Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, expressed opposition for the bill.

Some of the lawmakers in opposing the bill pointed out that the allegation of fraud in the recruitment exercises for the corps meant it could not be passed at the moment.

The bill was presented for passage for a third reading on Tuesday, but votes could not be taken as the Senate was divided over it.

More to follow…

Court Grants Bail To Peace Corps Commandant, Dickson Akoh

dickson-akohA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has granted bail to the National Commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, Mr Dickson Akor, who is standing trial for alleged money laundering and operation of an unlawful para-military organisation.

Ruling on the bail application filed by counsel to Mr Akor, Justice John Tsoho granted bail to the defendant in the sum of 10 million Naira with one surety, who must possess landed property within Abuja.

The incorporated trustees of the Peace Corps of Nigeria charged as the second defendant, was also granted bail in the sum of 20 million Naira.

Justice Tsoho further ordered Mr Akor to deposit his passport as well as other travel documents, two recent passport photographs and a copy of the title documents of his proposed surety’s property with the court.

The Federal Government had earlier arraigned Mr Dickson Akor, on a 90 count charge bordering on money laundering and obtaining money under false pretenses through extortion from innocent Nigerians.

The Judge however fixed May 23, 2017, for commencement of trial.

Sign Peace Corps Bill Into Law, Oyo Lawmaker Begs Buhari

Sign Peace Corps Bill Into Law, Oyo Lawmaker Begs BuhariA member of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Honourable Akeem Ige, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly sign into law, a bill for the establishment of the Peace Corps scheme recently passed by the National Assembly.

Ige, who is representing Ibadan South East Constituency ll on the platform of Accord Party, made the call in Ibadan while receiving a delegation of the corps from his constituency who came on a thank-you visit.

The lawmaker, who described the passage of the bill by the National Assembly as a good end of the year gift to Nigerian youths, explained that when the bill becomes a law, it would help reduce youth unemployment in the country.

Ige lauded the National Assembly for the timely passage of the Bill, describing the Peace Corps scheme as an initiative of the United Nations and one that would make the country be at par with other countries in the world.

He added that when the youths are fully engaged, they would not be used as agents of destruction by desperate individuals and politicians.

He explained that a nation that fails to invest in or develop its youths will be stagnated with societal ills of varying degrees.

He enjoined the Federal Government to stop the N5,000 stipend to the most vulnerable individuals in the country, suggesting that the funds be channeled  towards youth empowerment projects and giving the youths qualitative education.

According to him, “the proposed N5,000 stipend will create a loophole for some people to enrich themselves at the expense of the downtrodden Nigerians”.

He charged the beneficiaries of the Peace Corps scheme from his constituency to be disciplined, committed, loyal and good ambassadors of the country wherever they might find themselves.

Speaking on behalf of over 320 beneficiaries of the “Ige Again Youth Empowerment Scheme” that the lawmaker procured forms for, Mr Adekunle Akinkunmi thanked Ige for giving them the opportunity to benefit from the scheme and be gainfully employed.

Assent To Peace Corps Bill And Make History, Amb. Akoh Urges Buhari

Assent To Peace Corps Bill And Make History, Amb. Akoh Urges BuhariNational Commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, Ambassador Dickson Akoh, says the time has come for youth empowerment to be of utmost priority to both the federal and state governments in the country.

He made his views known at the end-of-year gala and awards ceremony held by the organisation in Abuja.

He said that because youth unemployment has resulted in militancy, terrorism, 419 and other national ills, President Muhammadu Buhari should assent to the Peace Corps Bill, which has passed through the National Assembly.

If President Buhari does this, Amb. Akoh believes he would have distinguished himself as the most youth-friendly president in Nigeria’s history.

This is because millions of unemployed youths being able to engage meaningfully in national development activities would ensure peace and development across Nigeria.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Interior, Senator Usman Nafada, said at the event that “any effort by any group or individual to engage these youths that we left behind will be a welcome idea by the National Assembly”.

 

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, regretted that youths have “surrendered their responsibility of being the conscience of the nation” to politicians as politicians now “dictate the content of the leadership of the youth council, the students union”.

He joined the call for better empowerment of the youths in order to make societal vices unattractive to them.

The Peace Corps Act houses the Peace Corps of Nigeria under the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.

The organisation boasts of a membership of hundreds of thousands of youths across the country.