Nigeria: Senate passes Nigerian Peace Corps bill

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – On Tuesday, July 25, 2017, Nigeria’s Senate finally passed the Nigerian Peace Corps bill which it had rejected earlier, on May 2.

Earlier in May, the Senate had rejected the bill because a few lawmakers opposed the Nigerian Peace Corps due to the disapproval of the corps by security agencies and a litigation suit between the security agencies and the corps.

According to report, the Senate passed the bill on Tuesday after it was advised by its committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters.

The Nigerian Peace Corps will gain statutory status after the House of Representatives and the Presidency give assent to the bill.

The House is expected to give the approval to the bill. The bill is said to has strong support from the members of the House, includng the support of the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who had earlier indicated that the lawmakers may consider a veto if the Presidency fails to approve the bill.

Before the vote at the Senate, Senator David Umaru, the chairman of the committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters, explained that the main objective of the Nigerian Peace Corps bill, which is to provide employment for the youths, could be achieved by strengthening existing agencies and not necessarily creating new ones.

He noted that it would prevent the federal government (FG) from being overburdened, but observed that the powers and function of the corps called for concern and urged that they be subjected to further examination.

According to him:

‘The right vested by the Bill in clause 37 (1) (a) on members of the Corps to ‘access all records of any person or authority’ is too broad in scope and to that extent constitutes an infringement on the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution, under Section 37.

‘This power is unnecessary, given that the Corps is not an investigative agency.’

Last year, the corps was accused of fraud and illegal recruitment practices, including the collection of ₦40,000 for registration of corps members. The committee said that Dickson Akoh, the commandant of the corps, admitted that the corps collected the money and it was utilised for provision of uniforms, medical care through out duration of training, training manual, honorarium for guest lecturers, certificate of training and ID card and accommodation for one month.

Senate President Bukola Saraki expressed optimism that when signed into law, the bill would help to address the problem of unemployment among the youths.

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