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Senate Passes Nigerian Peace Corps Bill

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The Senate on 25th July 2017 adopted the Conference Committee Report on a Bill to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC). The Bill seeks to empower, develop and provide gainful employment for youths to facilitate peace, volunteerism, community services, nation building and other related matters.

Although the Senate had initially deliberated on the report at a plenary sitting on 2nd May, 2017, debate as to the manner and operations of the Peace Corps, the widespread allegation of fraud surrounding its activities and the legitimacy of the Senate passing the Bill led to its further committal to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for address.

The 46 clauses Bill establish a Nigerian Peace Corps with a headquarters in the Federal Capital Territory and with offices in all the States, local government areas and education institutions[1]. The objective of the Peace Corps is to primarily train, educate and re-orientate the youth on future leadership roles in society.

Some functions of the Corps in the Bill include promoting social and economic development, engaging youths in the provision of community services like immunisation, census and sanitisation exercises, providing waste baskets in public spaces and assisting in planting of trees and environmental conservation[2]. Members of the Peace Corps will also be expected to maintain surveillance on students organising secret societies and check all forms of examination malpractices by students, teachers, invigilators and educational institutions. The Peace Corps will be managed by a ten man Governing Board[3] appointed by the President of Nigeria on the recommendation of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development. For the purposes of the Bill, the National Commandant is the Chief Executive and the Accounting Officer of the Peace Corps[4] and is directly responsible for the performance of its functions.

The Bill envisages 2 categories of membership for the Peace Corps. That is regular members / volunteers or officers/ other ranks within the ages of 18-35 years at the time of enlistment[5]. However, recruitment for membership of the Peace Corps is not so clear. For instance, while clause 14(d) of the Bill on the one hand, reserves the power for the Board clause 19(b) of the Bill on the other hand, vests the power of appointment, promotion and discipline of junior officers in the National Commandant. The Bill also enables the dissolution of the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria in a manner that those formerly in employment in the dissolved Peace Corps are transferred to the newly enacted Peace Corps on terms and conditions not less favourable[6].

Nevertheless there are some observations of the Bill by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters that are worth mentioning, despite Senate’s adoption of the Conference Report.

Firstly, although the objective of the Bill is to primarily provide employment, the operations of the Peace Corps in other jurisdictions (including the United States) is not on a pensionable and permanent employment basis as intended in Nigeria under the proposed legislation.

Secondly, it is noteworthy that the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the Nigerian Police, the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Securities and Civil Defence Corps all opposed the establishment of a Nigerian Peace Corps during the public hearing of the Bill. The Police for instance opposed the establishment of the Peace Corps on grounds of corruption observing that, the Corps had deviated from its original mandate by performing the roles of private guards, without approval to do so. The Department of State Security also objected to the Bill on grounds that provisions of the proposed Bill conflicted with some roles of security agencies with the potential of undermining peace and security.

Thirdly, some of the provisions of the Bill such as clause 38(1)(a) which gives members of the Corps power to “access all records of any person or authority” for the purpose of discharging its functions could potentially constitute an infringement on privacy given that the Corps is not an investigative agency.

Lastly, it is arguable that some of the functions of members of the Peace Corps can be carried out by young persons serving in the yearly national youth service corps or by strengthening other existing agencies rather than creating a new one altogether.

However, despite reservations by the Committee and other Nigerians, the harmonised version of the Bill will be transmitted to the President for assent.



[1] 1(2) Nigerian Peace Corps Bill, Report of National Assembly Conference Committee

[2] See Clause 2, Nigerian Peace Corps Bill

[3] Clause 5, Nigerian Peace Corps Bill

[4] Clause 12 (a)(iii), Nigerian Peace Corps Bill

[5] Clause 14, Nigerian Peace Corps Bill

[6] Clause 39 (e), Nigerian Peace Corps Bill