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At Last, Senate passes Nigerian Peace Corps Bill

The Senate on Tuesday passed the Bill Establishing the Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC).

Sponsored by Sen. Bayero Nafada (APC-Gombe), the bill is meant to empower and provide employment for youths, facilitate peace, volunteerism, community services and nation building.

The bill was passed in a unanimous voice vote after the Chairman, Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Sen. David Umaru, presented report on issues surrounding adoption of the conference report on the bill.

Umaru said the major objective of the NPC bill, which is to provide employment for the youths, could be achieved by strengthening existing agencies and not necessarily creating new ones.

Noting that the committee would prevent the Federal Government from being overburdened, Umaru said the committee, however observed that the powers and functions of the NPC called for concern and urged that they be subjected to further examination.

He said, “The right vested by the Bill in clause 37 (1) (a) on members of the Corps to ‘access all records of any person or authority’ is too broad in scope and to that extent constitutes an infringement on the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution, under Section 37.

“This power is unnecessary, given that the Corps is not an investigative agency”.

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki in his remarks said the journey towards establishing the NPC had been a long one.

He commended the committee for a good job and expressed optimism that when signed into law, the bill would help to address the problem of unemployment among youths.

The NPC bill was passed in the House of Representatives in June 2016, while the Senate passed its version in Nov. 2016.

The two chambers then set up a conference committee to reconcile the areas of differences in the bill.

This harmonization was yet to conclude its assignment and the bill passed before the Peace Corp began calling for application for recruitment, hence the controversy leading to the invasion of the corps office complex and arrest of the Peace Corp commandant by the police recently.

This prompted the Senate at its sitting on May 2, 2017, to direct the Committee on Judiciary to investigate into some allegations against the NPC.

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