The embattled commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, Dickson Akoh, has pleaded with President Muhammad Buhari to prevail on the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to unseal its headquarters in line with various court orders.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja Wednesday, Mr Akoh said his group remains a non-confrontational and law abiding organisation and has explored all lawful means, including seeking political solutions to its ordeal, but to no avail.
“In view of the landmark ruling yesterday coupled with other previous judgements and the resolution of the House of Representatives, we wish to renew our appeal, as part of our last resort, to President Muhammadu Buhari, to please direct the Inspector General of Police to order his men to vacate the premises of the headquarters of our organisation in the interest of equity, fairness and justice.
“We are also appealing to the Attorney-General of the Federation, the National Human Rights Commission, Civil Society Organisations, Human Rights Activists and other well-meaning Nigerians to urgently intervene in this regard, especially in prevailing on the Nigeria Police to respect the rule of law as a frontline Law Enforcement Agency,” Mr Akoh stated.
He said the police and its allies have achieved their overall intent, which he said was to stop the Nigerian Peace Corps Establishment Bill from becoming a reality.
“The clampdown and the purported charges against me and indeed this organisation were essentially to stop Mr President from assenting to the NPC Bill and stopping the Legislative Arm of Government from doing the needful.”
Mr Akoh further said his organisation and he have not committed any known crime under the laws of Nigeria. He pledged to present himself for prosecution when the police comply with court orders.
“We are ever ready to defend ourselves before any court of law as it is our wish to clear ourselves of any allegations.
“In a civilised society where the Rule of Law is supreme and respected by institutions of government and individuals, it is expected that the police comply with valid court orders and subsequently come before the court to prove its allegations against us, if any at all.”
He expressed regrets that after securing a court judgement, the police and others have continued to clamp down on his organisation. This, he said would only paint the country in bad light before the international community.
“The action of the IGP in disobeying valid court orders with brazen impunity and his selective victimisation of innocent Nigerians must be quite disturbing to all lovers of democracy.
“The truth is that, he is only courting more enemies for this administration that is known for its strong aversion to all manner of impunities, which is injurious to our president, who is doing all that is humanly possible to place Nigeria on the path of economic and political recovery,” Mr Akoh said.
The headquarters of the corps has been under siege by the police for over a year. It was taken over by the police on the day the office was officially launched.
Mr Akoh had claimed the organisation, currently registered as a non-governmental organisation, pays as much as N13.5 million rent annually on the sealed office.
During the office controversy between the peace corps and police, the former suffered a major setback when President Buhari declined to assent to its establishment bill. The lawmakers had tried to convert the peace corps into a paramilitary organisation.
The president cited paucity of funds and duplication of duties of existing security agencies as his main reasons.
The bill also suffered another setback few weeks ago when members of the House of Representatives rejected a move to override the president’s veto.