Peace Corps commandant still in Police detention 6 days after arrest

The national commandant of the Nigerian Peace Corps, Dickson Akoh, arrested on Sunday by the police, is still being held nearly a week later, authorities have said.

Mr. Akoh, 43, was arrested after he turned himself in at the FCT command headquarters, saying he learnt the police were looking for him.

He was detained at a facility run by the police special anti-robbery squad in Abuja, PREMIUM TIMES learnt the evening of his arrest. He had not been released since then.

On Friday evening, the police told PREMIUM TIMES they charged Mr. Akoh to court earlier in the week, although the claim was disputed by sources close to the commandant.

“We arraigned him at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday,” FCT police spokesman, Anjuguri Manzah, told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone.

Mr. Manzah declined further questions on the matter, including whether the police procured a court order to continue holding Mr. Akoh in detention beyond the legally-allowed 48 hours.

But two sources close to Mr. Akoh said the police did not arraign the commandant.

The sources said the police tried to arraign him before Gabriel Kolawole of the Abuja Division, but the judge declined to entertain the case immediately.

“Justice Kolawole asked them to come back on March 28 for the case,” one of the sources said.

The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid complicating an ongoing negotiation between the authorities and Mr. Akoh’s representatives.

The incident came three weeks after the Nigerian Army, police and the SSS, in a joint operation, stormed the Peace Corps’ head office in Abuja, arresting its founder, Mr. Akoh, and other national leaders before shutting the facility down.

PREMIUM TIMES confirmed at least two people were injured during the raid, but could not independently verify what the security agency were responsible.

On March 1, the police paraded Mr. Akoh and his officials, 49 in total, and accused them of running an outlawed organisation with intent to perpetrate fraud and jeopardise national security.

The police said a 2013 “official gazette” of the Nigerian government “dissolved and proscribed illegal security outfits” which included the Peace Corps.

Mr. Akoh and his officials were later released, but Peace Corps offices remained shut nationwide.

A few days later, authorities slammed a 90-count charge of recruitment scam, money laundering and impersonation to the tune of N1.4 billion on the Mr. Akoh and his comrades.

Mr. Akoh strongly denied the charges, saying he had been investigated and cleared by anti-graft officials.

Millicent Umoru, a spokeswoman for the Peace Corps, condemned Mr. Akoh’s arrest and demanded his immediate release in a telephone exchange with PREMIUM TIMES shortly after he was arrested on Sunday.

The incident came amid efforts by the National Assembly to complete final amendments of the harmonised version of the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill and dispatch it to the executive for assent.

Click here for PREMIUM TIMES’ detailed look into the lingering dispute between the Peace Corps and existing Nigerian government agencies.

Peace Corps is a threat to Nigeria’s security, says IGP Idris.

Ibrahim Idris, the inspector-general of police, has said the Nigeria Peace Corps constitute a threat to the country’s security, hence the recent clampdown.

The police chief said the recruitment process of the corps ran against the laws guiding the establishment of security agencies in the country.

While speaking at a three-day training programme organised for senior police officers, he said Dickson Akoh, the corps commandant, will be charged to court.

“Nigeria is not a lawless country. You can’t just wake up overnight and establish a security organisation,” he said.

“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.”


Source: The Cable

Reasons why we raided Peace Corps, arrested commandant, others – Nigeria Police

The Nigeria Police on Wednesday provided reasons why it raided the headquarters of the Nigerian Peace Corps and arrested some officials.

The explanation comes a day after the police, in a combined operation with the State Security Services and the Nigerian Army, 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.
A statement signed by police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, said 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.

Youth council appeals to Buhari to sign Peace Corps Bill

The National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) on Thursday appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the speedy assent of the bill seeking the establishment of the Nigeria Peace Corps.


The council made the appeal in Abuja at a news conference by the president of its interim committee, Murtala Garba.


The Senate recently passed the Bill last week, providing for the establishment of the Corps as an agency under the Ministry of Interior.


Mr. Garba said assenting to the bill would accelerate the implementation of President Buhari’s social safety net and youth empowerment programmes.


“We believe that President Buhari must have been eagerly praying and waiting for the passage of the bill by the National Assembly,” he said.


Mr. Garba commended the leadership of the National Assembly for its effort in ensuring the passage of the bill.


He described the passage of the bill as the biggest achievement of the National Youth Council.


Mr. Garba also applauded the Minister of Youth and Sport Development, Solomon Dalung, for his tireless effort toward improving the living condition of the Nigerian youth.

NYCN begs Buhari to sign Peace Corps bill

A group of youths under the aegis of National Youth Council of Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill into law.

The group made the request when they stormed the National Assembly complex to appreciate the lawmakers for passing the Bill.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that the Senate on Nov. 24. passed the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill into law.

The development gave approval for the establishment of the Nigerian Peace Corps as an agency under the Ministry of Interior.

The National Chairman of the group, Mr Murtala Garba, told newsmen that there was urgent need for the President’s accent to the bill in order to address the increasing rate of unemployment in the country.

“We are here to appreciate the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives for passing the Peace Corps bill and we so much believe this will give jobs to the teeming youths in the country.

“Thousands of youths will get jobs through this administration and we the Nigerian youths are calling on Mr President to ensure this bill becomes law.

“This is another opportunity for Mr President to demonstrate his sensitivity to the plights of the unemployed youths in the country.

“He should endorse it and we believe in his capacity as a man of the youths; we are calling on him, please we are jobless.

“So this is the opportunity just the way people are appreciating former President Ibrahim Babangida over Federal Road Safety Corps and Former President Olusegun Obasanjo for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps,’’ Garba said.

The Nigerian Peace Corps Bill among others seeks to empower, develop and provide gainful employment for the youths, to facilitate Peace, Volunteerism, Community Services, Neighbourhood Watch and Nation-building.