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UPDATED: Peace Corps Bill suffers setback in Senate


The Senate has stepped down the bill to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps, after lawmakers opposed adoption of the conference report on it.

A cross section of Peace Corps members during their 18th Anniversary
A cross section of Peace Corps members during their 18th Anniversary

The setback, Tuesday, followed the presentation of the report of the conference committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives chaired by Bayero Nafada.

The Senate had since last year passed the bill giving legal backing to the Peace Corps and, thereafter, transmitted it to the House of Representatives for concurrence, which was done.

But rather than completing the passage process, lawmakers, including James Manager, PDP-Delta; and Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, argued against the establishment of the corps.

They cited the opposition to the corps by the security agencies and litigation between such agencies and the drivers of the corps.

Thousands of youth see hope of employment in making the peace corps gain statutory status.

But Mr. Akpabio said anybody that wanted to empower the youth could do so through a foundation, not necessarily the Act of the National Assembly.

He said the corps had been operating illegally with some of them being addressed as “general”, “field marshal” and “commander general”.

But John Enoh, PDP-Cross River; and Binta Garba, APC-Adamawa, urged support for the bill, noting that it would help tackle problem of unemployment and that the Senate should not reverse itself having first passed the bill.

Mrs. Garba queried why his colleagues were “differing from” what they had supported before.

Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, warned that the Senate should not stop its process in view of the court case to avoid a precedence that will motivate anybody to approach the court anytime a bill is in the works in the Senate.

He also brushed aside opposition from the security agencies, including the police.

He touched on the earlier opposition of the Police Force and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria to the bills that eventually established Civil Defence Corps and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria respectively.

Intervening, Senate President Bukola Saraki proposed that the process be stepped down to review issues raised and relate with the House of Representatives.

But he stressed that suspension of the process should be cited as done in view of the court case.

Mr. Saraki’s proposal received positive response when a voice vote was taken and the Senate, therefore, referred the matter to its committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters chaired by David Umaru, APC-Niger.

The committee has two weeks to submit its report.

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