A breather came for the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) on Tuesday as the Senate finally passed a bill to make it a para-military agency.
The Senate adopted the conference report on the bill to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps, after it was so advised by its committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives had separately passed the bill last year.
However, after the harmonisation of the two separate bills, the Senate had rejected the harmonised version, which has now been approved.
The bill will be sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent after the House also approves the harmonised version.
The PCN bill was passed in the House of Representatives in June 2016, while it was passed in the Senate in November of the same year.
The two chambers set up a conference committee to reconcile the areas of differences in the bill.
But a debate on the bill at the Senate on May 2, 2017, was marred by controversy, forcing the chamber to refer the conference report to the legal committee.
The passage of the bill, Tuesday, is hoped will put paid to series of cases filed by Nigerian security agencies against PCN Commandant, Ambassador Dickson Akor.
In March the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice arraigned Akor on 90 charges, including money laundering and obtaining money under false pretences through extortion from innocent Nigerians.The allegations involved about N1.2bn.
The Incorporated Trustees of the Peace Corps of Nigeria were charged as the second defendant alongside Akor.
The case marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/45/2017, was filed by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation on March 14, 2017.
A combined team of soldier, police and men from the Department of State Security (DSS) had on February 28 stormed the Abuja office of the Corps, arrested Akor and 49 members of the group.
The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, adduced reasons for the arrest on March 3, when he alluded that activities of the group 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.
Idris added that the corps Commandant, Dickson Akoh, and 49 others, who were arrested on Tuesday night, would soon be charged to court.
He spoke in Lagos during a three-day training programme organised for senior police officers by the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 2 Command, Kayode Aderanti.
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.
“The commandant was picked up in a joint operation involving the police, the military and the DSS. We are going to charge him to court,” he added.