Peace Corps: Commandant insists bill still on course despite presidential, parliamentary rejection

Peace Corps: Commandant insists bill still on course despite presidential, parliamentary rejection

- The National Commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN), Dickson Akoh, is still optimistic that the bill will be passed

- Akoh says the bill is still on course and not dead as suggested by some media reports

- He cleared the air on the status of the bill in a press briefing in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja

National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN), Dickson Akoh, says the bill to establish Nigerian Peace Corps was still on course and not dead, contrary to some media reports suggesting the bill was dead.

The House of Representatives had on Thursday, May 24, kicked against the second reading of the bid to override President Muhammad Buhari's veto on the bill for an act to establish Nigerian Peace Corps.

Some media reports had suggested that with the lower house decision, the bill was finally dead, owing to the fact that the overriding process could not scale through second reading at the green chamber.

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But Akoh, at a world press briefing in Abuja on Monday, May 28, faulted the media reports, describing it as “mischievous, highly misleading and a misrepresentation of facts.”

He said: “Any discerning mind will know too that it is not the bill itself that suffered a temporary setback via rejection, rather, it is the overriding process initiated by the House of Representatives.

“Therefore, without any fear of contradiction, let me say it loud and clear that the Nigerian Peace Corps Establishment bill is not dead as widely publicized, but still alive and on course.”

He pointed out the merits of the bill and the socio-economic benefits enshrined therein for the Nigerian youth and the nation at large, which he said, were the reasons why both chambers of the National Assembly overwhelmingly supported and passed the bill in the first place.

Akoh, however, said there was “a deliberate gang-up against the bill and its good intentions were highly misrepresented by those who have access to Mr President,” adding that, it was on that premises that the president withheld his assent.

He expressed disappointment over lawmakers who voted against the overriding process on Thursday, saying it was “a clear case of approbate and reprobate,” which he said was caused by “subtle threats anchored on political interests.”

He said, “the youths now know their enemies as the members who spoke against the overriding only succeeded in trading this all-important youth friendly Bill on the altar of securing re-election tickets.”

While appreciating the "patriotism" of those who spoke and voted in favour of the bill, Akoh said the organisation would remain grateful to the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara and the leadership of the House of Representatives for standing by the bill.

He expressed hope that “the politically-motivated challenge” currently facing the Corps would still be resolved.

While calling on officers of the Corps to remain calm and law abiding, the Commandant assured the public that, like the 'Freedom of Information Act', the Peace Corps bill, which has already been passed by the National Assembly, would be assented to, sooner than later.

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Meanwhile, despite the setback suffered by Nigerian Peace Corps Bill at the House of Representatives, on Thursday, May 24, a Federal High Court in Abuja, has declared that the Corps was a “lawfully registered organization that has the rights to carry out its programs in the country within the ambit of the law.”

This was contained in a judgement delivered on Friday, May 25, by Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, in a fundamental human rights enforcement suit instituted against the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in 2013 by the Incorporated Trustees of Peace Corps of Nigeria.

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