By Joseph Ede
The Nigeria Police Force said on Wednesday that it arrested Mr Dickson Akor, the “national commandant” and 46 members of the Peace Corps of Nigeria in Abuja on February 28.
Presenting the members to journalists in Abuja, the Force spokesman, CSP Jimoh Moshood said the arrest was aimed at halting and ridding the country of illegal and unlawful security outfits.
It was the second time that the police would stop the Peace Corps from operating. In Kwara state, the police authorities also dismantled a training camp of the group.
Moshood said that intelligence reports revealed that some illegal security outfits had started acquiring weapons and conducting covert military training across the country.
“The peace corps has unlawfully turned itself into a security outfit without the authourisation and establishment by the Federal government, “he said.
Moshood further said that the corps, under the leadership of Akor, was registered as a non-governmental organisation but was operating with disregard to the country’s law.
He said that during preliminary investigation, it was discovered that the personnel of the corps were extorting money from unsuspecting youths in the county.
“Anyone who must have paid money under any presence to the corps should report to the nearest police station anywhere in the country, “he said.
Moshood said members of the corps had no legal authority to wear uniform and for the corps to be paraded as security outfit.
He said that members of the corps use ranks, insignia, badges of ranks among others similar to the police and military without approval by Federal Government.
“The Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies will not fold their arms and allow lawlessness to be unleashed on the society.
The police spokesman said that the joint security operations would be sustained to crack down on the activities of all proscribed illegal security outfits across the country.
Moshood advised parents and guardians to prevail on their children and wards to return from the illegal military camps owned by the corps across the country.
The spokesman said that the head office of the corps at the Jabi Lake, Utako, Abuja, had been sealed after the arrest.
Moshood said that the federal gazette in 2013 had dissolved and proscribed illegal security outfits in the country.
He said the suspects would be arraigned in court on completion of investigation.
Reacting, Akor said that the corps’ activities were aimed at changing the character of the Nigerian youths and how to be responsible citizens.
On the payment of the N40, 000 by applicants, he said that the money was meant for the purchase of uniforms and their feeding, adding that the corps was a voluntary organisation.
He said that the corps’ uniform was approved by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
The commandant said that the corps had been given commendation by the UN on its activities toward the development of the youths.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the National Assembly has passed the bill seeking to legalise the corps.
It is awaiting the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.