Despite two court orders for the immediate opening of the Nigeria Peace Corps headquarters in Abuja, the police have said they will keep the facility shut in the “interest of national security and public safety.”
Police spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, said an appeal had been filed against the previous court rulings and a stay of execution order procured.
The police and other established security agencies, including the State Security Service and even the Nigerian Army, have resisted the Peace Corps’ push to become a paramilitary agency since the early 2000s.
In 2003, the SSS shut the Peace Corps office and kept its founder, Dickson Akoh, in custody for several months.
The latest confrontation came on February 28, 2017, when the Nigerian Army, police and the SSS stormed the Peace Corps’ head office in Abuja, arresting Mr. Akoh and other national leaders while shutting the facility down.
Mr. Akoh, who heads the Peace Corps as its national commandant, and his officials were later released, but their office remained shut nationwide.
In early March 2017, the police 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 denied the allegations, saying he was a victim of conspiracy and envy by the powerful elements in the federal agency.
The Peace Corps consequently ignored the ban placed on its activities and continued operations across the country.
Amidst the controversy, the National Assembly passed the legislation for the Peace Corps to be collapsed into the federal security apparatus.
President Muhammadu Buhari received the bill earlier this month. He is yet to sign it.
More than two-thirds of respondents to a PREMIUM TIMES online poll said the president should sign the Peace Corps Bill.
At least two federal court judges have ruled in favour of the Peace Corps in recent months, with one judge describing it as “an act of illegality”, but the police have remained defiant.
The judges also slammed the police for failing to get a warrant before moving against the Peace Cord
In his statement to PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Moshood, a chief superintendent of police, said the 2013 gazette proscribing the Peace Corps was still in effect, but promised to obey the final judgement of the court.
“The Nigeria Police Force wishes to assure all and sundry that the force is a law-abiding organisation and will definitely obey the outcome of the appeal pending determination in Court and the exhaustion of all legal processes in this matter,” Mr. Moshood said.