From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate, yesterday cleared the air over the ambiguity emanating from the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill passed and adopted by the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Since the Senate adopted the report of the Conference Committee on Tuesday, two different groups had laid claims to the bill passed.
While Dickson Akoh, the National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria had addressed the press, thanking the National Assembly for “restoring hope to the Nigerian youths”; Dr. Chinedu Nneji, Commandant General of National Unity and Peace Corps had also addressed the media, thanking the National Assembly for passing his bill.
Reacting to the controversies surrounding the passage of the Bill, the Senate.spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the bill passed into law by the National Assembly was to give legal backing to the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria.
Senator Sabi who addressed the Senate correspondents yesterday said it was necessary to explain the ambiguity, saying the report in some quarters that the National Assembly passed and adopted the National Unity and Peace Corps Bill was misleading.
According to the spokesman, the National Unity and Peace Corps Bill did not pass through in the House of Representatives and as such, the Senate could not force it on them.
His words: “Let me say that in the Senate we had the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill and we also had the National Unity and Peace Corps Bill.
“When we were considering the Peace Corps Bill, an observation was raised that there was another bill which had similar objectives, that was the National Unity and Peace Corps Bill.
“So it was agreed that the bill should be incorporated into the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill. That was done. When we did that, we then passed our own version.”
Senator Sabi added that it was during the conference committee to harmonise the two versions of the bill that the National Unity and Peace Corps Bill was removed and the Reps version was adopted.
“The House of Reps maintained that there was no bill called the National Unity and Peace Corps Bill. So, there was no basis for harmonisation. They maintained their stand that the only bill they passed was the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill, for which we also considered.
“So, at that point of harmonisation the conference committee adopted the position of the House of Reps. Effectively, what this means is that, the only agency which we considered its bill was the bill that said the Peace Corps of Nigeria and of course, dissolution within the context of that bill only referred to Peace Corps of Nigeria.
“What that means effectively is that, the bill that says National Unity and Peace Corps Bill is still intact, there is no provision in our law where we have even touched it.
We want to advise Nigerians to be guided by what we have done, there should be no ambiguity.
“We know there are people out there who are claiming that the bill we passed affected them, I don’t think that is the correct picture.
“The bill we passed and adopted, was the one promoted by the Peace Corps of Nigeria under Mr Dickson Akoh”, the Senate spokesman explained.
He however, said the bill made provision for any group of youths that is peaceful and with similar objective, to approach the Nigerian Peace Corps and be incorporated.