Again, Senate on Tuesday suspended a Bill to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps, after some lawmakers opposed adoption of the conference Committee report on it.
The Senate had since last year passed the bill giving legal backing to the Peace Corps and, thereafter, transmitted it to the House of Representatives for concurrence, which was done.
At the consideration of the Conference Committee report submitted by the Chairman of the conference committee, some senators spoke against the consideration of the bill.
Specifically, the Minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio compared Peace Corps of Nigeria to the Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox (MMM) scheme, which he described as “419”.
The term 419 is used to describe illegitimate deals.
He said the upper legislative chamber could not afford to pass the bill given the issues surrounding the peace corps.
He argued that if the senate passed the bill, it was “going to legitimise illegitimacy” and it would be like giving a legal backing to
“Honestly speaking my submission will be to support the earlier speakers, it is better for us to tread on the part of caution, when you talk about para-military organisation, we may be adding to insecurity in the nation vetting and other things have to be done before we start putting uniform on people and giving ranks,” Akpabio told his colleagues.
“It is also almost like our government to make a law on MMM where youth have been taken advantage of and people have lost money, millions of naira and then someone brings a law to legitimise MMM which we know is a fraud.
“Some of them are field marshals and they have not gone to any war, many of them are lieutenant-generals, I have seen some saluting as brigadier-generals, I have seen them in public occasions where the youth use their clothes to clean the seats for the commandant-general.
“This thing is 419. We cannot make a law for an individual to collect millions of naira.”
The former governor of Akwa Ibom state said if anyone sought to help the youth he or she could do that through a foundation that did not necessarily need the laws to back it.
But Senators John Enoh, (PDP-Cross River) and Binta Garba Masi, (APC-Adamawa) appealed to other lawmakers to fastrack consideration of the report.
The lawmakers noted hat it would help tackle problem of unemployment and that the Senate should not reverse itself having first passed the bill. Masi queried why his colleagues were differing from what they had supported before.
Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, warned that the Senate should not stop its process in view of the court case to avoid a precedence that will motivate anybody to approach the court anytime a bill is in the works in the Senate.
Lawan, however made references on the earlier opposition of the Police Force and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) to the bills that eventually established the Civil Defence Corps and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria respectively.
In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki proposed that the process be stepped down to review issues raised and relate with the House of Representatives, stressing that suspension of the process should be cited as done in view of the court case.
When the Senate President put the proposal to step the bill down to voice, it was overwhelmingly accepted.
Saraki therefore, forwarded the report to the committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters chaired by Senator David Umaru, (APC-Niger) and to report back within two weeks.