Amb. (Dr.) Dickson Akoh is the founder and national commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria. He holds a B. Sc Degree in Sociology from the University of Abuja and was thereafter conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy (Humanities) by the Commonwealth University, Belize, South America.
In this interview with Youths Digest Magazine, the commandant speaks on the challenges of establishing the Peace Corps through legislative processes among other sundry issues relating to peace in the country. Gidado Shuaib was there to anchor the interview. Excerpts:
YD: The Nigerian Police has insisted that the order proscribing the Peace Corps of Nigeria is still in force. What can you say about this?
A court order to unseal means unseal if the same federal high court have delivered judgment in 2010 to declare as illegal null and void, the purported proscription is referring to, then it’s unfortunate the expertise and the level of intelligence of the Nigerian Police Force. He made reference to 2013 gazette. There is nothing of such whatsoever. A gazette is a document published by the office of the attorney general and the President signs. It’s not a Police diary and the same gazette that is copiously referring to that which the attorney general is always preparing, the same attorney general on four different occasion has advise the inspector general of Police to comply. So where did Jimoh Moshood (Police Spokesperson) get the Gazette he is talking about?
YD: Are you saying the Police spokesperson was wrong with the statement he made?
All I can say is that he is just misinforming the public. If a police institution cannot respect and uphold the rule of law, cannot obey court order, then “Nigeria is doom for Failure” and that is speaking negatively to the human right situation and obedient to court judgment in Nigeria today. This judgment was given and the court declared forthwith that they should open the office since June last year till today the police has not complied. It is unfortunate for them to be talking about a mere notice of Appeal they filed, not the Appeal itself and they have never filled any application for stay and even an application for stay is filed, is something that can be argued in court. Not until the court grants it, he cannot say they just merely filed an application which we have not been served. So we went to the record of the court and court said they have never filed any application for stay.
YD: What should we expect if the law establishing PCN is signed?
When fully established we will compliment and resolve other security challenges through vigilance, intelligent gathering and reporting to the federal government on happenings that normally leads to insecurity within localities. So that will go a long way. It is unfortunate that some people are benefitting from current security crisis.
YD: Will youth be instrumental to achieving peace in the nation?
Naturally, Nigerian youth want to step in on issues revolving peace. We feel highly troubled because it’s our future. If the economy is troubled, investors will not come. And if investors are not coming in what will happen to the armies of unemployed youths we have in Nigeria? So this is something that calls for serious concern and in my own humble opinion, the energy and the man power police deploy to our office would have been deployed to troubled spot and police would have dissipated more of their energy in curbing the high level of insecurity in Nigeria than focusing in a law abiding organization like Peace Corps.
YD: Will PCN be able to engage 500,000 youths as you stated in a media interview?
The Peace Corps will engage over 500,000 Nigerian youths. If you’re talking about neighbourhood watch that will be vigilant all over the street of Nigeria, checking insecurity. Calculate that in all the states of the Federation. We need more than five million youths to man the various streets.
YD: How does PCN generate its funds?
As stated in our constitution, membership drive, gifts and bouquet, subvention from government at all levels, donation from international donor agencies and camp fees paid by our members and annual dues paid is what we are managing to sustain the organization for now. Peace corps is accorded special consultation status by the U.N, thereby making us an affiliate of the UN ECOSOC, the same thing with the African Union.
YD: Is President Buhari likely to assent to the bill considering ongoing stalemate with the Police?
For now, it has not reached the level where we complain that the President hasn’t assented to the bill. The president has 90days and the bill just went on the 27th of December which is less than two weeks. So we are very comfortable because is not even a month on President Muhammadu Buhari table. The bill will surely follow due before it is signed. Mr. President genuinely promised Nigerians youths, who are central to the process that brought him to power, of his commitment to create more job opportunity and provide security across the country. Nigerian youths nationwide are waiting and the nation will erupt with the kind of celebration nobody has seen before on the day Mr President assent to the bill. We are hopeful that this will be his best legacy. Mind you, if you go through memory lane all past presidents, head of states has one organization to their credit. NDLEA, Road Safety is Babangida, Civil Defense is Obasanjo, if you talk about Conservative Rangers in charge of forest guards the former president, the immediate past president signed the law before his exit from office. Now this bill is before President Muhammadu Buhari. So we are hopeful that he will follow that trend. Since other people brought other organisations before him, we are sure President Buhari will bring peace through the Peace Corps. Prosperity will surely remember him and his effort.
YD: Why does the Nigerian Police continually harass the Peace Corps?
Well, they saw the prospect in the organization, they saw the dynamism in the youths, they discovered that majority of Peace Corps members are graduates, and we enjoy international reputation. I think that is what is envying them. They claimed that they have locked our office you are now in our annex, so is that particular office that is attracting them. If not so, the very day we opened that office was the very day they sealed it. So, saying that the place is being used to perpetrate crime is the number one lie they have told and court has held as such. We have never used that office for one day. The day it was opened with fanfare and shown nationwide by Channels, AIT, Radio Nigeria relaying it Live, after the ceremony they invaded and sealed there. We have not used there for one day. This is the office we have been using over the years in the last 12years. It’s evident that the comment some of the VIP that came that day particularly a senator did say if we as NGO can put that kind of structure, they wonder the level of our taste and we are going to put in place when Mr President assent to the bill. That statement was made live and it was immediately after that Police invaded the office. So, every rational mind will know that it’s based on envy. We have not done anything wrong. We have won 13 judgments against the police at the federal high court and they say they are not obeying. So people should tell Jimoh Moshood to provide the gazette. A gazette is a legal document prepared by the attorney general of the federation and signed by Mr President. He should bring it and display to the public. So its just police concoction, is the same Moshood that tell the public that a retired police officer who is a respected and distinguished senator is a deserter from the police, only for the Police Service Commission within a week to address a press conference that the Senator is not a deserter but a retired officer who followed through due process before the retirement.
YD: How will you rate the performance of the security agencies?
The security agencies are doing very well when it comes to international peace keeping. They are doing very well at the higher level but the local level, the education institutions there are in loose end and that is where Peace Corp feel they can come in.
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