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(MUST READ) Fresh update on Peace Corps of Nigeria

Written By Idoma Television on Sunday, March 12, 2017 | 11:56:00 PM

‘’A Masquerade that Dances for too long at the Market Square, Stands the Risk of being De- robed’’—-African Proverb 

The protracted animosity between the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) and its opponents, which recently climaxed in the crude invasion of its new corporate headquarters situated opposite Jabi Lake, Abuja on Tuesday, 28th 2017 and the arrest of the National Commandant, Ambassador (Dr) Dickson A. O. Akoh and forty nine officers of the Corps, is currently on the course of re- launching the Corps into national reckoning through the demystification of its implacable foes.

Putting the same issue in a different perspective, the recent institutionalization of a N2billion suit against the Police and the Department of State Service (DSS) at the Federal High Court, Abuja, has put the Corps in a vantage position or better still, on an unstoppable march to finally exposing the hypocrisy nay double standards of its opponents, who have over the years cruelly conspired to make its existence one long hell of frustration; an existence that has been characterized by brutalization, constant harassments, arrests and above all, illegal detention of its officers, most especially its National Commandant, Akoh, who like the Late legal luminary, Gani Fawehinmi, has been in and out of detention several times over.

Happily enough, through this process, Akoh has been toughened so much so that he has developed a thick skin to all the shenanigans of his opponents.

What makes this latest onslaught against the PCN really worrisome is that in spite of the weighty allegations of terrorism and stock-pilling of arms leveled against the Corps, the only exhibit the Police could display before the whole world is the official uniform and portrait of the National Commandant. Little wonder, the Police could not summon the courage to charge the officers of the Corps to Court.

How sad! This in turn necessitated the current Court action of the Corps to seek legal redress with a view to exposing to the whole world the inexplicable wickedness of the security agencies against its corporate interest.

In a suit, which was instituted by a former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Kanu Agabi (SAN), the plaintiffs, apart from demanding a sum of N2bn as compensation for the embarrassment caused the Peace Corps of Nigeria and its Incorporated Trustees, are also asking the court to declare as illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional, the arrest of Dr. Akoh and other officers of the Corps as well as the sealing off of its Head office in Abuja and offices in the 36 States of the Federation.

In addition to the above reliefs, the applicants also asked the presiding judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, to declare that they are entitled to Fundamental Rights, to acquire and own properties, lawful assembly, Freedom of movement, personal liberty and dignity of their human persons, as guaranteed under sections 34, 35, 40, 41, and 43 of the 1999 constitution.

Consequently, the plaintiffs, therefore, applied for an order, compelling the respondents to unseal the Headquarters of the Peace Corps of Nigeria and its offices nationwide and to release properties seized during the “unlawful invasion” of their office.

Similarly, the applicants prayed the court for an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the respondents, their privies or agents, from further sealing the applicants’ office and disrupting their activities, including its meetings and orientation of its members, nationwide. With this Court action, the Corps, has once again re-affirmed its irrevocable commitment to the rule of law and assured its Staff Officers/ volunteers and millions of supporters worldwide that it is determined to explore all legal options available to secure its mandate and above all, to expose the politics of bad belle underpinning the action of its enemies, who hide under the nebulous concept of national security interest to trample on the rights of other Nigerians with reckless impunity.

It is an open secret that the various arms of the nation’s security agencies as presently constituted today harbour a sizeable number of criminally-minded elements. With their long chequered history of brutality, indiscriminate arrests/detention and killing of innocent Nigerians, nobody has called for the proscription of any of these security agencies.

So, why the constant haranguing of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, an organization that has the promotion of peace, rendering of community services and neighborhood-watch as its cardinal objectives? It would be recalled that the Corps had in the past scored three major judicial victories against the Police, with damages running into millions of naira awarded in its favour.

But the Corps had always declined to claim the damages on the grounds that it is the Federal Government that will end up paying it, instead of the lawless individuals who flagrantly abridged the rights of the Corps with absolute nay reprehensible abandon. The past cases that were decided in favour of the Corps include: Suit NO FHC/ABJ/ CS/231/2010; Suit NO FHA/ABJ/ CS/481/2012, which was delivered on 22nd April, 2012; Suit NO FHC/ABJ/CS/613/07 and a report of Police Investigation into the activities of the Corps dated 25th April 2008, which exonerated the Corps of any criminal activity.

As Nigerians wait patiently for this legal action instituted by the Corps to run its full course, expectations are high that just like its previous resounding victories, the Corps currently stands on an impregnable ground to demystify its opponents in the Court. Its victory will be a victory for the proponents of the rule of law; a victory against tyranny, oppression and man’s inhumanity to man.

Over the years, the security agencies have relied on vile opportunism, unflappable sycophancy and trenchant collaboration of corrupt elements in the society to ride roughshod over innocent Nigerians, but thank God that we are no longer in that era of business-as-usual.

With the kind of discipline that President Buhari’s administration is gradually instilling in all Nigerians, the current court action of the Peace Corps of Nigeria has all the potentialities of not only exposing the rot in the nation’s security architecture, but also demystifying those who have vowed to halt the upward mobility of the Corps under Dr. Akoh’s leadership.

 At least, it will serve as a bitter lesson for other enemies of the Corps who might be waiting in the wings to spring other morbid surprise(s) on the organization. A word, it is often said, is enough for the wise!
 – Ochela is a former newspaper editor based in Abuja

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