Why we apprehended Peace Corps Commandant, others – Nigeria Police
How history shows NPF is always on war-path with budding paramilitary organisations in Nigeria
24 hours after a combined team of security officials from the Nigeria Police, the Nigerian Army and the Department of State Service (DSS) arrested the Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Dickson Akor, the Nigeria Police which was at the vanguard of the attack, on Wednesday, cited illegal acquisition of weapons and engagement in covert military training for their officers as reasons.
The police, in a combined operation with men of the Nigerian Army and the DSS had stormed the headquarters of the Peace Corps in Abuja, arresting its commandant and other national leaders.
At least two people were confirmed injured following the raid, which occurred around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, witnesses said.
The arrest came after the National Assembly had given its legal imprimatur to the establishment of the paramilitary organisation.
Although the police had alleged that the Peace Corps breached the laws of the land, history however showed that the police had always gone on war path with any paramilitary organisation seeking legal recognition in the country.
Bar and Bench Watch authoritatively reports that the Nigeria Police had gone on war path with two of such organisations in the past.
For instance, the police had organised similar but separate attacks against the leaderships of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) shortly after they were established.
In the case of the FRSC, the then Lagos State Sector Commander of the FRSC, Mr Ayobami Omiyale was not only arrested by the police but was also rough-handled and bundled to the premises of the Lagos high court in Ikeja where he was arraigned before a Chief Magistrate Court in the ikeja judicial division of the state.
The NSCDC which was recently established also had a traumatic experience in the hands of the Nigeria police.
But explaining why it had to go after the Commandant of Peace Corps, the police on Wednesday released a statement signed by its spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, to allege that intelligence reports indicated that the Peace Corps and other similar groups “were acquiring weapons and conducting covert military training in different locations across the country.”
Mr. Moshood said such actions violated a 2013 gazette of the federal government that banned the groups and ordered them to cease operations.
The latest acrimony came weeks after the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives harmonised the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill to give the group, which had operated as a volunteer organisation for 18 years, government backing.
It was learnt the SSS and police submitted memoranda to the National Assembly against the establishment of the Peace Corps, but the lawmakers went ahead with the passage of the bill, anyway.
The bill is expected to be forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent, although it is not clear if the president will support the creation of another paramilitary agency.
The full statement of the police on the matter reads:
- The Nigeria Police Force in joint operations with the Personnel of the Military and Department of State Service commenced yesterday 28th February, 2017, operations to halt and rid the country of illegal/unlawful security outfits constituting National Security Threat and Threat to the protection of life and property of Nigerians across the country.
- Credible intelligence reports at the disposal of the Force revealed that some of these illegal Security outfits have started acquiring weapons and conducting covert military training in different locations across the country.
- It is evident that in 2013, Federal Republic of Nigeria official Gazette dissolved and proscribed illegal Security outfits such as Nigerian Maritime security Agency (NMSA), Nigerian Merchant Navy Corps and the Nigerian Merchant Navy Petroleum Security and Safety, Peace Corps of Nigeria and other quasi illegal security outfits.
- However, it has been observed that Nigerian Maritime Security Agency NMSA, Peace Corps of Nigeria, Maritime Security Agency and National Task Force to Combat Illegal Importation/Smuggling of Arms and Ammunition, Light and Chemical/Weapons are still operating outside their mandates and purposes for which they were registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission.
- For avoidance of doubt the Peace Corps of Nigeria under the leadership of one Akor Dickson was registered as an NGO but with brazen impunity, total disregard to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, opened illegal training camps in some States of the Country, where thousands of youths and other persons without proper background check and screening are receiving converts Military training.
- It is consequent upon the above and the veracity of intelligence reports from reliable sources, indicating that subversive elements/groups and terrorist affiliates have infiltrated the Peace Corps of Nigeria secretly to ruin and destroy the existing peace currently being enjoyed in the country that the Peace Corps of Nigeria secret training camps were closed down in the FCT, Kwara and Niger States.
- During the preliminary investigation into the activities of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, it was discovered that personnel of the Corps are extorting money from unwary youths throughout the Country under the guise of recruitment; amounts ranging from Fifty Thousand Naira (#50,000) to Hundreds of Thousands of Naira are being paid by innocent Nigerians to the Peace Corps of Nigeria. Once you paid the money you are automatically recruited. Anyone who must have paid money under any pretence to the Peace Corps of Nigeria should report their case at the nearest Police Station in where they are across the country.
- The Peace Corps of Nigeria has unlawfully turned itself into a security outfit without authorization and establishment by the Federal Government of Nigeria, as such, have deviated from the purposes for which they were registered as a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) by the Corporate Affairs Commission.
- The Corps has no legal authority to wear uniform, parade itself as Security outfit, post their personnel on guard duties, and use ranking, insignia, badges of rank which are semblance of that of the Police, Military and other paramilitary organizations without the approval of Federal Government of Nigeria.
- The Nigeria Police Force and other Security Agencies will not fold their arms and allow lawlessness to be unleashed on the society.
- It is in furtherance of the above that the Nigeria Police Force, the personnel of the Military, Department of State Service, had in a joint security operations swooped on the Head office of the Peace Corps of Nigeria on the 28th February, 2017 situated opposite Jabi Lake, Utako District, sealed off the building and effected the arrest of one Mr. Akor Dickson, the Leader of Peace Corps of Nigeria and Forty Nine (49) others (on the attached list) for investigation in the interest of public safety and security. They will be arraigned in court on completion of investigation.
- This joint security operations will be implemented throughout the country to halt the illegal activities of all these proscribed illegal Security outfits such as Nigerian Maritime Security Agency (NMSA), Nigerian Merchant Navy Corps and the Nigerian Merchant Navy Petroleum Security and Safety, Peace Corps of Nigeria and other quasi illegal security groups.
- Parents and Guardians are advised to prevail on their children and wards to return home from the illegal military camps opened in some states of the country by the Peace Corps of Nigeria as the activities of the Corps in totality is unlawful.