The Police in a joint operation with the military and Department of State Services (DSS) arrested the Commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria Dickson Akor and 49 other members of the outfit, with a promise to arrest more operators of unathourised security outfits in the country.
Meanwhile, four nursing mothers, among the 49 others, have cried out that their babies and families were yet to be notified of their whereabouts since they were taken in by the police on Tuesday morning.
The police leadership had recently noted that activities of some illegal security outfits were constituting different kinds of threat to national security, hence it resolved to dismantle them nationwide.
Parading Akor and 49 others, Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood said a joint operation with the military and operatives of the Department of State Services arrested the suspects on Tuesday in an operation that was intended to dismantle illegal and unlawful security outfits throughout the country “constituting national security threat and threat to the protection of lives and property”.
Moshood said the joint operation would be replicated nationwide to arrest other such illegal outfits proscribed by a Federal Government Gazette in 2013 such as the Nigeria Maritime Security Agency, Nigeria Merchant Navy Petroleum Security and Safety and Peace Corps of Nigeria and other quasi illegal security outfits.
He recalled that recruitment camps opened by the Peace Corps were closed down but other illegal activities of the corps have continued, leading to the operation to clamp down on them to forestall further security threat it poses to the nation.
Flanked by the representative of the Army Lt. Col. A Sani of the Army Garrison and a representative of the DSS, Moshood explained that Akor registered Peace Corp of Nigeria as a Non-Governmental Organisation by the Corporate Affairs Commission before brazenly diverting from the original mandate, “opened illegal training camps in some states of the country, where thousands of youths and other persons without proper background check and screening are receiving converts military training.
“During preliminary investigation, into the activities of the Peace Corps, it was discovered that they were extorting money from unwary youths throughout the country under the guise of recruitment”, Moshood said.
He maintained that the Peace Corps has turned itself into a security outfit without authorisation and establishment by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The police further enumerated the offences of the corps to include wearing uniforms without the legal authority to do so; posting their personnel on guard duties, using ranks insignia, badges of ranks with semblance of that of the Police, Military and other paramilitary organisations.
But when given the opportunity to say something, the leader of the group, Akor wasted no time in explaining that the money received from the members of his NGO is used to process their uniforms and other paraphernalia of office, but they do not engage in security operations or guards.
Akor, who was visibly shaken by the arrest, said many of his members were tortured by the operatives who ransacked his office, carting away every available machine, including handsets and money.
Akor particularly said one of his ‘officers’ was badly brutalised and is almost dying in an Abuja hospital, saying the outfit is not illegal as it provides the platform for Nigerian youths to be useful to their society, noting that the corps has a mandate within which it operates.
Newsmen gathered that one of the corp members who resisted arrest was badly beaten and is currently receiving treatment at the National Hospital, with stitched injuries he sustained in the head.