By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The Nigerian Peace Corps has reacted to recent reports which implied that President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected the Peace Corps Bill.
In a statement issued on Saturday by the Public Relations Office of the Corps, Millicent Umoru, the NPC described the report as misleading and a “voyage of interpretation of the Constitution”.
The report had insinuated that by not signing the Bill 30 working days after it was transmitted in December 2017, the President had denied accent to the bill.
However, Umoru insisted that some of the bills that were sent to the President along with the Peace Corps bill had been rejected as the president expressly wrote the National Assembly to convey the reasons why those bills were rejected.
The corps stressed that the Peace Corps Bill was not part of the rejected ones and as such it was wrong for the medium to have published such a report.
Read the full text of the statement below:
RE: BUHARI REJECTS NIGERIAN PEACE CORPS BILL.
When our attention was drawn to the aforementioned report in the Vanguard Newspaper of Saturday, February 17, 2018, which was written by Mr. Soni Daniel, the Northern Regional Editor of the Newspaper and Mr. Emman Ovuakkporie, our initial reaction wasthat of disbelief.
But after reading the entire report, it suddenly dawned on us that the authors deliberately elected to sensationalize the caption with a view to selling the Newspaper and on that note; we wish to assure the teeming members of the Peace Corps of Nigeria and millions of our well-wishers nationwide that the writers merely embarked on a voyage ofinterpretation of the Constitution.
The truth of the matter is that out of about nine Bills that were transmitted to the President together with that of the Nigerian Peace Corps, the President rejected three and returned same to the National Assembly (NASS), stating reasons why he rejected them. And of course, the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill was not part of the rejected ones.
We are not unaware of the grand conspiracy by some security agencies against the Peace Corps, especially the Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and Civil Defence in theiradversarial memos to the Presidency to thwart assent to the Bill. This conspiracy, whichwas also manifested in form of opposition during the Public Hearings conducted by both chambers of the NASS on the Bill, was roundly defeated by superior arguments of over 500 Oral and written Memoranda submitted during the Public Hearings in the NASS.
The major plank of this conspiracy is that the functions of the Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC)Bill overlap that of the Nigerian Police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), which is far from the truth. (Nigerians should watch out for our full pageadvertorial on this issue in The Nation, The Sun, Daily Trust and Tribune Newspapers on Monday, 19th February, 2018). The advertorial clearly articulates the statutory functions of the Police, Civil Defence and that of the Nigerian Peace Corps.
We wish to correct the erroneous impression created by this report, whose contents are just the authors’ interpretation of the provisions of the law, President Muhammadu BuhariGCFR, has not assented to or rejected the NPC Bill. And if even the President rejects the Bill, he will communicate same to the NASS, stating reason(s) for doing so.
Moreover, the Spokespersons of both chambers of the NASS, Senator Sabi Abdullahi(Senate) and Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas (House of Representatives) have clarified the issues as far as the law on this matter is concerned.
The authors also questioned the legal status of the Peace Corps, a position that smacks of mischief. For purpose of clarity, Peace Corps of Nigeria was duly incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission under the Companies and Allied Matters Act Cap 1990, Part C as Nigerian Leadership and Marshal Corps, but changed to Peace Corps of Nigeria in 2002 in accordance with the Companies and Allied Matters Act. So, its legality has never been called to question and even if the Bill is not assented to, that will not stop it from functioning as an entity. The Bill is essentially to give statutory backing to the Corps.
That this report is coming out a few days after the House Committee on Public Petition gave the Corps directive to take-over its Headquarters that has been under lock and key by the Police since February 2017, a directive that was almost executed before the intervention of the FCT Commissioner of Police, is suspicious. How sad!
Sadder still is that in spite of several Court judgments pronouncing Peace Corps as a legal entity, including recent verdicts by two different Federal High Courts judges, the antagonists of the Corps have continued to disregard these valid Orders by refusing to unseal the Peace Corps office. So much for the Rule of Law!
In conclusion, we request all PCN Stakeholders and indeed the entire Nigerian youth to disregard any erroneous, malicious and none-evidence based information against the NPC Bill.
Patriot Millicent Umoru
Corps Public Relations Officer