Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Peace Corp Bill Suspension: IGP vs Peace Corp

By Ukorebi Esien

The bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Peace Corp suffered a major set back today at the floor of the Senate. This came when the committee chaired by Bayero Nafada presented it's report. Shortly after, rather than vote for the passage if the bill to it's third reading, surprisingly the like of Deputy Senate president Sen. Ike Ekweremadu and minority leader Sen. Godswill Akpabio kicked against the passage of the bill stating the ongoing law suit between the Peace Corporation Commandant and the Nigerian Police as a major reason.

It could be recalled that both the lower and upper chambers had separately passed the Peace Corp bill. What was left was just the presidential assent to the bill.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives had earlier made it clear that the bill will still weather the storm it is currently facing.  He stated this in an interview on the 29th of March.  He dither stated that the national assembly can pass the bill into law with or without the president's assent.

In his words:

"If the president doesn’t assent for whatever reason to the Peace Corps Bill we are at liberty to recall it back to parliament and muster the two-thirds in the House and Senate and pass in spite of Mr. President’s veto,” Mr. Dogara said.

Dogara, however, noted that Buhari’s reaction to the bill will determine the next action to be taken by parliament.

The speaker said the bill has already been passed by each of the chambers of the National Assembly.

The National Assembly’s passage of the Peace Corps Bill despite strong opposition from existing government agencies has set the group on a collision course with the police, State Security Service and the Nigerian Army.

But the speaker said the lawmakers will not be distracted by the antics of existing security agencies, adding that the country cannot spend too much on security.

“We cannot overspend on the issue of protecting the lives and the properties of our citizens, we cannot,” he said.

Dogara noted that the opposition to the establishment of the peace corps by police and other security agencies was acting in a manner similar to how they treated the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the run up to its adoption by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

He said the NSCDC founder, Ade Abolurin, was arrested on numerous occasions by security forces.

“That was the same argument when the Civil Defence Bill was before the House, that it could not be funded, that they were divulging some of the powers of the police to the Civil Defence— that it would never work.

“At the end of the day all these were surmounted and now we have the Civil Defence that in some cases some citizens have said that they are more dependable than the conventional police.

“I see them everywhere I travel to and they have become a pride of the society,” Mr Dogara said.

Meanwhile The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, said the activities of the Nigeria Peace Corps posed a security threat to the country.

He stated that the recruitment and operational procedures of the corps did not conform to the law establishing security agencies in Nigeria.

He said, “Nigeria is not a lawless country. You can’t just wake up overnight and establish a security organisation. There are processes. Security is the responsibility of the executive arm of government and there are processes to take. Even it took the police almost a year to recruit 10,000.

“I want us to appreciate that we have so many challenges in this country and we don’t want some of these people of questionable characters to enter our security services and constitute a threat to the security of this country. And that is what the peace corps is doing. You don’t just go on the streets and be picking people by the virtue of the fact that they give you money.

Ukorebi Essen is a blogger and Conference. Speaker