The Senate on Thursday declared that the Peace Corps bill it legislated upon along with the House of Representatives and transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent in April remains the brain child of the National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Professor Dickson Akoh.
The bill as stated in a statement signed by Senator Ali Ndume in his capacity as the sponsor in the Senate, seeks for an Act to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps which was accordingly considered, harmonised and adopted by the two chambers of the National Assembly.
It also declared that any other group or individual, laying claim and parading itself as Nigerian Peace Corps, is illegal.
The recognition of Dickson Akoh led Peace Corps by the Senate as the authentic body that approached it and the House of Representatives for consideration and passage of the bill, arose from claims being made by one Mustapha that he is the owner of the bill.
The statement reads : “The attention of the leadership of the Senate and indeed the National Assembly has been drawn to different groups laying claims to the Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps which was harmonized and adopted by the two Chambers of the National Assembly.
“The Bill as passed by the two Chambers of the National Assembly is solely sponsored by the current Peace Corps of Nigeria under the headship of Prof. Dickson Akoh as the National Commandant.
“Since the Bill was transmitted to Mr President for his assent by the Clerk of the National Assembly on the 12th April, 2023, the Senate has been inundated with several entreaties as to the status of the Bill, especially the Organization that is sought to give statutory backing after Mr President’s assent to the Bill.
“To put the record straight, Part VIII of the Bill titled “Dissolution of the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria and Savings” explicitly provides that at the commencement of the Act that the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria will be dissolved and transmute to the Nigerian Peace Corps. The import of this therefore is that the Bill only sought to give statutory backing to the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria under the leadership of Prof. Dickson Akoh.
“Also, on the issue of the nomenclature of the headship of the proposed Nigerian Peace Corps, the title is National Commandant as contained in Part III, Section 11(1) of the Bill as passed and not Commandant General as widely been speculated.
“However, the Bill made adequate provision in Section 38 (8) was made to accommodate individuals, groups, associations or bodies that have shown or demonstrated interest to be absorbed as members of the Corps shall be absorbed subject to the mandatory basic training and orientation programme of the Corps as prescribed on the commencement of this Act.
“It is important to say that effect cannot be given to this Bill until same is assented into Law by Mr President. Therefore, any group laying claim and parading itself as Nigerian Peace Corps for now is illegal.