In a country where uniformed men outnumber civilians, the Peace Corps of Nigeria is one group that might not be defined without mentioning words like chaos, conflicts and directionless. Inasmuch as it bears the name Peace Corps, the group has not enjoyed peaceful existence since it was founded. Having being in operation for more than a decade, the government has refused to recognize them as a legal paramilitary organization in the country. Want to know more? Here are five details for you.
1. It was founded in the military era
Peace Corps of Nigeria is not a baby name in Nigeria. It has been in existence since 1998, and has been operating solo and hoping against hope to be among the recognized paramilitary groups in Nigeria just like the Police and the Civil Defense Corps. The group has answered so many names before it settled to its current name.
According to the founder, Amb. (Dr) Dickson A. O. Akoh the reason for establishing the institution is to connect with youths, offering peaceful education and conflict resolution to the general public, political education and nation building. The group boasts of over 113,000 regular officers and volunteers in the 36 states of the country and the FCT. Twenty years after it was founded, the group is still dangling on the ropes of relevance in the public sphere.
2. The group was once suspended in 2003
The Peace Corps of Nigeria faced a total shutdown by the Department of Security Service (DSS). It was a nationwide shutdown and it only resumed its operation again in 2007. However, the group has an ongoing lawsuit against the DSS which has permeated for a very long time.
Recall, too, that in 2013, the police regarded the Peace Corps of Nigeria as an illegal group parading security outfits in the country. And also, other government bodies like the Independent Electoral Commission, Ministry of Interior and the Federal Ministry of Health feel that the body should be totally scrapped.
3. There bill seeking to be passed into law was rejected by the President
In January 2018, the President Buhari after keeping the nation ib suspense for weeks refused to sign the bill that would have established the institution as a governmental body. It was a sad day for the group because the confidence they built towards the day the bill would have been passed into law was sky high. However, the President gave reasons why he feels the bill can’t be passed into law at the moment. Here are excerpts of his letter to NASS revealing his reason.
“Specifically, reasons for the decision to decline assent to this bill include among others:
“a. Security concerns regarding the proposed Nigerian Peace Corps being authorized to undertake activities currently being performed by extant security and law enforcement agencies; and
“b. Financial implications of funding the establishment and operations of the proposed Nigerian Peace Corps, given the scarce financial resources may pose serious challenges to the government.
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This is in spite the fact that majority of the National Assembly supported the bill.
Some of the objectives being highlighted by the group are already being carried out by the Civil Defense and the Police. Despite the fact the President didn’t assent the bill, the group is not fizzled out as they claim a standing court ruling legitimizes them.
4. There is a strong perception that the group is owned by a cabal
Quite a number of Nigerians are of the perception that the Peace Corps pressure group is being owned and financed by a top person in the governmental food-chain. The group has faced multiple attacks that would have warranted its total shutdown yet they still rise like dust to begin operation. Just like the SARS epidemic that Nigerians fear on a daily, many believe that if its true that the group is being owned and financed by top people in power, they will squander government coffers, intimidate Nigerians and, above all, they will not be accountable to Nigerians. Looking at events, the group is already enjoying good rapport with most members of government officials. During its 18th anniversary, its received in attendance senators, house of representative members and some ministers.
5. They are already facing corruption charges
After the President refused to sign the bill seeking to recognize the body as a legal paramilitary in the country, their leader Amb. (Dr) Dickson A. O. Akoh played a guest on NTA News where he faced a lot of questions from curious Nigerians concerning corruption rumours surrounding the institution. One caller alleged that the body has been swindling participants or its members of a large sum of money in the name of uniforms, lodging fees etc. Amb. Akoh denied the rumours as many callers insistently shared disappointing views about the body. Would it be good for the government to recognize this body in order to curb most disasters Nigerians face on a daily like the herdsmen attack especially? Many have no clue.