Barely 24 hours after the Peace Corps of Nigeria commissioned its national headquarters complex at the Jabi area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), its leaders and key employees have been arrested by security agents.
Those detained by the Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) are the Commandant, Dickson Akoh and 49 others. They were paraded by the Nigeria Police High Command before journalists in Abuja on Wednesday for allegedly operating an illegal security outfit.
The police also accused the commandant of the Corps of illegal recruitment and sealed up the office.
The Force Spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, said that their arrest was the outcome of a joint operation between the Police, the military and the DSS.
The suspects included a breastfeeding mother who lamented that the Police had turned down her pleas to allow her go and take care of her baby.
Akor, however, denied the claim by the police that his group operates an illegal security outfit, stressing they have not posted any of their members to any security beat.
He noted that his group, being a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), is recognised by the Federal Government, the African Union and the United Nations (UN).
Akor explained that his group has been probed by anti-corruption agencies in the country and have not found him wanting on any allegation of defrauding innocent Nigerians.
He stressed that the monies members of his group pay is strictly for training kits.
However, while giving further explanations on why the leaders of the group were arrested, Moshood said: “During the preliminary investigation into the activities of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, it was discovered that personnel of the Corps are extorting unwary youths throughout the country under the guise of recruitment.
“Amounts ranging from N50,000 to N100,000 are being paid by innocent Nigerians to the Peace Corps of Nigeria. Once you paid the money you are automatically recruited,” he said.
Moshood called on all those who paid money to the Peace Corps to report to the nearest police station.
“Anyone who must have paid money under any pretence to the Peace Corps of Nigeria should report their case at the nearest Police Station in where they are across the country.
“The Peace Corps of Nigeria has unlawfully turned itself into a security outfit without authorisation and establishment by the Federal Government of Nigeria, as such, have deviated from the purposes for which they were registered as an NGO by the Corporate Affairs Commission.
“The Corps has no legal authority to wear uniforms, parade itself as security outfit, post their personnel on guard duties, and use ranking, insignia, badges of rank which are semblance of that of the Police, the Military and other paramilitary organisations without the approval of Federal Government of Nigeria,” he said.
He vowed that these joint security operations will be implemented throughout the country “in order to halt the illegal activities of all these proscribed illegal security outfits such as Nigerian Maritime Security Agency (NMSA), Nigerian Merchant Navy Corps and the Nigerian Merchant Navy Petroleum Security and Safety, Peace Corps of Nigeria and other quasi illegal security groups.”
Meanwhile, the Corps Public Relation Officer, Milicent Umoru, who confirmed the arrest to newsmen in Abuja, said that the Commandant and 40 officers were arrested by DSS, the Police and the Nigerian Army.
She said that Akoh was detained in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command.