‎Police release Peace Corps Commandant, 49 others

Peace Corps

The police in Abuja released the commandant of the Nigerian Peace Corps, Dickson Akoh, on Thursday night, two days after he was arrested on allegations of running an outlawed organisation.

Mr. Akoh was arrested on Tuesday night after police officers, in a joint operation with the Nigerian Army and State Security Service, stormed the head office of the Peace Corps in Abuja, whisking him and 49 other members of the group away.

The police paraded Mr. Akoh and his men on Wednesday afternoon, saying the “Peace Corps has unlawfully turned itself into a security outfit without the authorisation and establishment by the Federal government.“

The police said a gazette promulgated by the Nigerian government in 2013 had outlawed the Peace Corps and other similar groups operating private paramilitary agencies across the country.

But Mr. Akoh denied the allegation, saying he established the group to instil discipline in Nigeria and create employment opportunities for the country’s teeming youth.

The police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, confirmed the release of Mr. Akoh and the other 49 arrested members.

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Mr. Akoh was released on bail with a condition that he must report at the Federal Capital Territory Command of the force every day.

“He was released on Thursday night after providing a surety and there are conditions attached to that,” Mr. Moshood told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Friday night. “He will be reporting at the FCT Command where the case is being handled.”

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the Peace Corps head office remained locked by the police, and it might not be opened until the tension died down.

The arrests 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.

PREMIUM TIMES 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.

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