By Comrade Aliu Fajemiro
Femi Falana, the human right lawyer, has called the arrest of the National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Mr Dickson Akor, as illegal and unconstitutional.
While addressing journalists in Abuja after securing the release of Akor from police custody, Mr Falana, said Peace Corps operating legally.
Mr Akor and other 48 memebers were on February 28 arrested at the Corps Head Quaters in Abuja by police in a joint operation Department of State Services (DSS).
But the police said they they carried out the raid operation because they were informed that Peace Corps and other similar groups were acquiring weapons and recruiting militia in different part of the country.
The Police said such such groups are banned by 2013 gazette of the Federal Government.
But Falana condemned the arrest and the parading of those arrested, insisting that the police erred.
He said: “Generally, the parade of criminal suspects in the country by the Police is illegal.
“In this case, apart from the registration of its trustees under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, there are two judgments of the Federal High Court restraining the police from harassing and intimidating members of the organization.”
The human rights lawyer said that he is also negotiating for the re-opening of the office of the Peace Corps of Nigeria.
“They must be allowed to operate under the law and we will get to that state where the police will appreciate that Nigeria is under-policed.
“We need volunteers, young men and women who should be organised by the state to handle those duties that will not require the intervention of the Police,” Falana said.
He stressed that crimes like terrorism, herdsmen attack, armed robbery and kidnapping thrive in the country because the country is under-policed.
“As at 2011, the Federal Government of Nigeria decided to engage the services of 380,000 police personnel, between then and now, only 10, 000 are being employed.
“There is no way you can police about 180 million people with barely 380, 000 police personnel out of which about 120, 000 are guiding the elite and corporate bodies in the country.
“I thought the police should have embraced a body like the Peace Corps of Nigeria to make their job easier because the Nigerian Police operates under very difficult situations.
“Most communities are not policed, so herdsmen move into farms and kill people.
“Nigerians have not developed a litigation culture of challenging the killing of every citizen either directly or indirectly for which the government can be blamed,” Falana added.
On November 24, 2016, the National Assembly passed a bill, which gives approval for the establishment of the Nigerian Peace Corps as an agency under the Ministry of Interior.
The Nigerian Peace Corps Bill seeks to empower, develop and provide gainful employment for the youths.
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