RE: BEFORE PRESIDENT SIGNS VIGILANTE BILL INTO LAW By Rogers Edor Ochela

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Our attention has been drawn to a recent publication in Daily Trust of 2nd  January, 2020 and we wish to correct certain misrepresentations contained therein about the Peace Corps of Nigeria, PCN.

From all intents and purposes, the aforementioned publication contained some facts and certain obvious misrepresentations. Of course the misrepresentations ought to be quickly corrected lest it assumes the status of truth in the minds of unsuspecting members of the public.

First and foremost, I agree with the author in his assertion that the Bill for the National Community Policing and Vigilante Protection Corps, popularly known as the vigilante Group of Nigeria, VGN, was given accelerated hearing by members of the National Assembly for reasons that are best known to them. I also wholeheartedly agree with the author when he raised eyebrows over the sponsors’ unnecessary bellyaching over the delay in assenting to it by the President.

What I, however, found objectionable is the author’s erroneous claim that ‘’an arm of the same government proscribed the so-called illegal Peace Corps of Nigeria before it was born’’. And that is not all as the author, obviously a quisling of the traducers of the PCN, went further to carpet Senator Ali Ndume for reintroducing the Nigerian Peace Corps on the floor of the Senate.

At this juncture, it is quite apposite to set the records straight by responding to these fallacious claims by the author. The truth is that it was the Nigeria Police that illegally proscribed the Peace Corps of Nigeria, an action that was rightly challenged by the Corps and won in the Court of competent jurisdiction. According to the Nigerian Constitution, it is only the Court of law that has the statutory powers to proscribe an organization in Nigeria. Therefore, what the police did in announcing the proscription of PCN is tantamount to committing an abominable illegality.

For a better appreciation of issues surrounding PCN, the Organization which was established in 1998 is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission under its Allied and Companies Matters Act CAP C 1990. And because of its noteworthy achievements, it has won United Nations’ Consultative Status and is affiliated to both the UN and African Union’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

As a registered NGO, Peace Corps has done so wonderfully well so much so that today it has a well-established structure comprising of functional offices in the 36 States of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory and well trained officers, majority of whom are graduates.

Again, I find it quite strange that despite the solid reasons advanced by Sen. Ndume for reintroducing the NPC bill, the author still went ahead to pick holes in the Senator’s logical arguments. Agreed, the President cited paucity of funds and security concerns as reasons for withholding his assent to the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill, but those concerns have already been addressed in the repackaged edition of the Bill that is currently pending before the National Assembly. The good thing is that the President did not question the legal or operational status of Peace Corps of Nigeria.

The point must equally be stressed here that the Peace Corps of Nigeria is neither a military nor quasi-military organization contrary to the claims of its critics. To further underscore this fact, it is evident enough that the Corps does not have the power to arrest, detain or even persecute offenders. Moreover, the Corps’ recruitment process is very transparent and its training has been severally vetted by Nigerian security agencies, especially the Police.

It would be recalled that in its report after an exhaustive investigation into the activities of the Corps in 2008, the Police returned a verdict of not-guilty, submitting that the Corps has not breached any known laws of the land. Similarly, the Independent Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, in its report into allegations of extortion leveled against the Organization in 2010 equally exonerated the Corps and even went further to state that the N40,000 paid by applicants was been heavily subsidized the Organization. This explains why its officers are well behaved, civil and courteous in their relationship with the larger Nigerian population.

Before I conclude this piece, I wish to submit here that it is quite uncharitable for the author to place a well structured organization with well trained officers like the Peace Corps on the same pedestal with Vigilante Group of Nigeria. If he has issues with the VGN, he should simply direct his grievances to that body rather than using it as proxy to attack PCN.

 

 

Ochela, the media consultant to PCN lives in Abuja and is reachable via edorochela@yahoo.co.nz 090-94411666 (text only)

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