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Dickson Akor: Sinner or Saint?

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Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) headed by Dickson Akor has been embroiled in controversy over a number of years and the controversy which has lingered has almost consumed the corps and its head. PowerSteering went to town recently to take another look at allegations leveled against Dickson Akor.
Unemployment is a very big problem that has bedeviled Nigeria over the years and presently there are about 60million Nigerians that are unemployed. Among this unemployed, are about 10 million that are graduates and the figure is growing every year. It is a source of concern that unemployment has pushed young Nigerians to engage in all manner of vices like armed robbery, cultism, kidnapping, drug pushing, prostitution and cybercrimes. A few years back some Nigerian youths were arrested on the border of India and Iraq on their way to join ISIS. As a result of unemployment Nigerians are now being recruited as terrorists.
Some individuals and organizations have also taken advantage of the unemployment situation in the country to extort money from unsuspecting job seekers. It will be recalled that there was a huge recruitment scandal involving the Immigration service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs that boarded on collection of money from applicants amounting to hundreds of millions of naira. While the applicants were fleeced of their money, many of them lost their lives at the recruitment exercise that was held at the National Stadium, Abuja.
The allegations against Dickson Akor are similar to what happened in the immigration recruitment. The Peace Corps under Dickson Akor at a particular time was collecting various sums of money from applicants seeking recruitment into the corps. The money collected from applicants was under the guise of providing them with uniforms and training kits amounted to millions of naira. This development led to various allegations being levelled against the commandant of the corps. He was also alleged to have criminal records against him way back in the 90s which was the reason approval was not given to his organization by the President Buhari’s administration.
It will be recalled that the Federal government filed a 90-count criminal charge against the Commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, Mr. Dickson Akor and the Incorporated Trustees of the Corps for alleged conversion of N1.4 billion.
In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/45/2017 filed by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the defendants were further accused of wearing uniforms and other identification marks contrary to section 24 (1) of the Private Guard Companies Act Cap P30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under Section 32 (1) of the Act.
The charge filed by an Assistant Chief State Counsel, Aminu Alilu, on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, also accused the defendants of laundering funds obtained through unlawful activities. PowerSteering investigation has revealed that Mr. Dickson Akor bought so many landed properties from the profits of the fraudulent recruitment exercise both in Abuja and other cities; one of such properties is a massive structure in Otupko in Benue State alleged to have been owned previously by one prominent Idoma politician who is now a paramount ruler in Benue State. He was also alleged to have bought the building along clerical road by federal road, Otukpo for half a billion naira in 2016. These are just few out of the numerous properties Mr. Dickson Akor owned through the laundering of the recruitment proceeds including other massive ones in Abuja.
The Federal Government also accused the defendants of obtaining money by false pretense contrary to Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related Offences Act, Cap A6 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
They were also charged in count 86 for organizing and training of members of Peace Corps of Nigeria as a quasi-military organization. Count 88 of the charge accused the defendants of unauthorized display of flags contrary to Section 7(4)(b) of the Public Order Act, Cap P42, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
In count 89, the prosecution accused the defendants of operating as a private guard without license. Under the offence of obtaining money by false pretense, the Federal Government alleged that Dickson Akor and Incorporated Trustees of Peace Corps of Nigeria, had, between January 1, 2013 and March 6, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Abuja, did commit an offence to wit: by false pretense and with intent to defraud, obtained for yourselves the sum of N274,712,126.18 from unsuspecting citizens of Nigeria who paid into Eco bank’s account No. 4582022099.
The leader of the embattled Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN), Dickson Akor and its Incorporated Trustees, have been formally slammed with a 90-count charge by the Federal Government.
It was against this backdrop that Akor and some 46 members of his group were arrested and paraded by the police in Abuja on allegations they were operating illegally.
In count 1 to 32, Akor and PCN’s Incorporated Trustees are accused of converting money derived directly from extortion, contrary to Section 15(1)(a)(ii) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
They are, in Count 33 to 42, accused of transferring money derived directly from extortion contrary to Section 15(1)(a)(ii) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
In Count 43 to 75, they were accused of “obtaining money by false pretense contrary to Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act, Cap A6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act”.
They were in Count 76 to 85 accused of “laundering of funds obtained through unlawful activity contrary to Section 7(1) (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act, Cap A6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act”.
They were in Count 76 to 85 accused of “laundering of funds obtained through unlawful activity contrary to Section 7(1) (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act, Cap A6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act”.
Mr. Dickson Akor who has been working hard to ensure that the Bill establishing the Peace Corps be passed into law was alleged to have bribed some Senate members with cash and slots to pass the bill.
The two Chambers of the National Assembly, as part of the legislative processes, organized Public Hearings in their respective Chambers in respect of NPC Bill.
So far over 570 Memoranda were received and 300 oral submissions made during the Public Hearings. In all of these, it was only 4 submissions and presentations that were against the passage of the Bill. Public Hearing is one of the most important parts of Bill making processes. The Bill establishing the Peace Corps is yet to see the light of day.
The Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN), is a youth organization in Africa, and has network of branches in all the States Capital in Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja with current membership strength of over 157, 000 comprising of both regular members and volunteers.
PCN and its activities established since 1998 in Kaduna, was accorded Federal Government recognition, under the Federal Ministry of Youth Development, since 2004 and is a member of the National Youth Council of Nigeria.
The Corps was in 2012 accorded a Special Consultative Status by the United Nations and assigned desk offices at the UN Headquarters in New York City, USA and regional offices in Geneva, Switzerland and Vienna, Austria.
The African Union, in the same vein, accorded PCN a special Conservative Status in 2016 on the occasion of its 18th Anniversary. Also, the Federal Ministry of Education granted PCN approval to establish its activities in all the Federal Government Colleges (Unity Schools) in the Federation since 2011. It is also affiliated to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to provide emergency relief and humanitarian services.
The Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) may have met every requirement to be given approval and accent by the president, but the previous criminal record by the personalities behind the Corps is the greatest stumbling block to its existence. However, PowerSteering investigation has revealed that Mr. Dickson Akor after selling to get the Corps recognize is now angling to pick the ticket of a Deputy Governorship of Benue State from the slot of Zone C in Benue State. It was revealed that he has donated hundreds of million to the party chieftains in Benue State including the state Chairman and Senators in Benue State to pave way for his emergence at the forthcoming primaries. All these time and chance will tell if he will realize his dreams. Every attempt to reach Mr Akor to respond to these allegations proved abortive as he attacked our reporter and cautioned him not to ever call him on this matter again as he is fed up with the antics of Nigerian journalists. He advised the journalist to go and put pressure on the federal authorities to approve the operation of the Corps.

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Sudden postponement: CISLAC demands National Assembly to Urgently Investigate the Abrupt Postponement of Presidential Election

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The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) is seriously perturbed by sudden postponement of general elections by the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) few hours to the Presidential elections and National Assembly elections.This was made known in a statement signed by the Executive Director, CISLAC,Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) on Saturday.

“While we express unreserved disappointment over the reported poor preparatory processes by the Electoral Body that disproportionately hampered adequate deployment of electoral materials to many parts of the country with resultant postponement, we condemn such abrupt decision informed by deliberate abuse of independent power that may discredit subsequent position by the Commission as an “Independent Body” before national and international observers” Rafsanjani said.

“We are not unaware of systemic conflict of interests and questionable procurement process imbibed by the various positions in the Commission creating tendency for mutual sabotage among the three (3) levels of appointees—National Commissioners, RECs and appointed relatives to the Directors in various Departments.”

“We are concerned by the wastages and losses the postponement would have caused the country, civil society and international community that have committed whopping financial and human resources to deployment and observation missions to ensure free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all.”

Given large presence of youth deployment for anchoring electoral processes and international electoral observation missions across the country, such abrupt postponement is a huge setback to our nation’s democracy which may breed electoral apathy and distrust at all levels.

With the new electoral dates, giving the space of a week extension, we are as well worried for the safety and integrity and security of elections materials which have been disseminated across the country.

Rafsanjani therefore called on the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency constitute an ad hoc Committee to investigate the sudden postponement to clear the Commission of public doubt that her decision was not informed by desperate desires of unjust individuals or groups who wants to assume or sustain power by all illegitimate means.

CISLAC demanded adequate security for both materials and human resources deployed by the Commission so far to the field to avert susceptibility to violations and attacks by unpatriotic individuals or groups across the country.

And called on the Commission to tender unreserved apologies to Nigerian and international observers, who are committed their time, presence and financial resources to monitor the electoral process with assurance that elections would hold as earlier scheduled. These apologies must also be rendered to Nigerian voters who have invested time and resources to sacrifice the day for them to discharge their civic responsibility.

And they also demanded immediate assurances by the Commission that the new electoral date—February 23rd is certain, and the distributed sensitive materials will be kept under appropriate supervision and security till the new date.

” We further encourage civil society groups, media, national and international observation missions to sustain surveillance on the electoral process to promote free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all” the Rafsanjani said further.

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SARS Beat Governor Dankwambo’s Cook to Death in Kaduna on his Instruction

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The relatives of a deceased, has accused men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of beating to death their son, John Okon, a cook at the Kaduna residence of Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State.
According to the spokesperson of the community, Okon, 32, died as a result of injuries sustained from beatings by the SARS operatives after he was accused of stealing four television sets from the governor’s private residence located along Pola Road, off Swimming Pool Road, Kaduna.
Until his death in a police cell on November 13, Okon lived with his wife, Joy, in the boys quarters of the Governor.
Barr. Gloria Mabeiam Ballason,Esq. the solicitor to the family of Okon, on Thursday addressed journalists about how her client’s husband was allegedly tortured to death.
A petition had been previously been filed to the Presidential Panel. She had petitioned the former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, over the matter, before his retirement but hope that the new IGP will expedite action on this pending issue to bring the culprit to book.

Excerpt of the petition can be found below:
“We are Solicitor to Mrs. John Okon who former whose husband was an employee of Dankwambo and resided together with her husband now (deceased) within Gombe State Governor, His Excellency, Ibrahim Dankwanbo’s Private Kaduna Residence located along Pola Road, Off Swimming Pool Road Kaduna.
“Mr. John Okon, died on the 13th day of November, 2018 as a result of gruesome serial multiple beatings and torture inflicted on him, while in the custody of men of the Nigerian Police, Special Anti-Robbery Squared (SARS) headed by one SP Jummai of Anti-Crime Department, Gabasawa, Police Headquarters Kaduna.
“Our Client’s husband, now late was employed as personal cook and housekeeper to the Gombe State Executive Governor, at his Kaduna residence as aforementioned, and was serving the Governor in that capacity for about one and the half years before the said incident. While at same time, lived in the Boys quarters of the Governor’s main private Residence, where armed Mobile Police Guards were mounted at the main entrance until, Thursday, 8th day of November, 2018 at about 7am when he woke up in the morning to attend to his daily domestic chore duties in the Governor’s Residence only to discover that the house had been burgled, and (4) Four theatre TV Cinemas were made away with by the burglars.
“He immediately, rushed back to his living apartment in the boys quarter to inform his wife and in their shock and trembling, both Mr. and Mrs. John Okon, alerted all the security guards and gardener, who all slept in the Governor’s Residence together with them, viz: Two (2) Uniform Policemen and 2 other private security guards and the gardener. All of them immediately carried out inspection of the house and wondered who must have broken into the Governor’s house unnoticed and without the usage of keys, moreso, nobody went out at night amongst all the occupants.
“While (4) Four TV Cinemas, stolen couldn’t have been taken away through the main gates to the house unnoticed and unchallenged by the Security guards except through the Perimeter Fence of the Governor’s Private Residence.
“Our Client and all the security guards attached to the Governor’s Residence decided to report the incident to Kabala Costain Police Station, where all of them were immediately arrested and another maintenance roofing worker of the Governor’s House, who came to work on Wednesday 7th November, 2018 on the Governor’s Roof leakages, was called and arrested. They were thereafter all transferred to the Kaduna State Police Headquarters, for further investigations on Friday, 9th November, 2018.
“We were reliably informed, that the case was assigned to the Anti-Crime Department at Gabasawa, Police Station, Kaduna. The Crime Investigation Team was headed by one ASP Jummai and 3 others, who decided to single out our client’s husband, Mr. John Okon, now late for torture, in order to extort by force confessions and viable evidence for their supposed investigation.
“He was so tortured that he could not use his Legs to walk neither was he strong enough to stand for 1 minute after those series of torturing between Friday, 9th November, 2018 and Monday, 12th November, 2018, couple with the fact that he was consistently denied access to the food prepared and taken to him by his wife, who was also arrested on Friday 9th November, 2018 at about 8.30pm and taken to the Anti-Crime Department for interrogation, whereas, her husband was repeatedly beaten in her presence asking him to confess to the crime under durex and where he kept all the stolen TVs Cinemas. While late Mr. John Okon pleaded to be spared from dying apparently from Police repeated battering and torture, his wife, Mrs. John Okon, broke down in tears in the process despite her condition, as she was heavily pregnant, pleaded for her husband innocence and safety from the hands of his oppressors (Police).
“She was ordered later, to be released around 11:30pm by SP Jummai the team head, who participated in the torturing with (2) two other Sergeants and Inspectors.
“It should be noted that between Friday, 9th November to Saturday, 10th November, 2018 our client’s husband could not stand nor walk again with his feets, and had to be brought literally by 2 Police men, about 3 times to the Governor’s Residence, under the guise that they wanted him to confess and lead the Police to where he was keeping the TV theatre Cinemas in the Governor’s Residence.
“It will interest you to note further sir, that Mr. John Okon now late, was not allowed access to see any visitors, nor his wife, except on occasions, when he was literally taken to his apartment in the Governor’s House for search, that she had access to him; neither was he allowed legal representation nor taken to Court in accordance with the Kaduna State Administration of Criminal Justice Law as well as the Constitution of Nigeria after 24 hours of his arrest by the Police until he was tortured to death by the Police on 13th November, 2018.
“Our firm of Legal Practitioners only came into the case on Sunday, 11th day of November, 2018 at about 1pm and considering the time he had over spent with the Police, we met with the investigating Police Officer, who refused to disclose, his name, upon my introducing myself to him, but has 2 Tribal Marks; he only chose to relate Police own side of their investigation but refused me access to the accused person on the ground that I came on a Sunday, and by Police Rules and Regulation, no suspects must be allowed to be seen by anybody over the weekends, their lawyers inclusive.
“We were simply advised to report back on Monday 12th November, 2018, so we left the Police Station at about 4.35pm without setting our eyes on Mr. John Okon.
“We reported back to the Police on Monday, at about 10:30am, only to be told that we needed the permission of the 2 I/C in charge of the team i.e. the team head of the investigation before we could be allowed access to Mr. John Okon, and at that moment, she went for Police briefing with the Commissioner of Police; we observed on our way upstairs to meet with the investigation Police Officers that there was a kind of commotion, in their office with about 3 Police Officers, carrying a supposed suspect already in coma, fainted, being rushed out of the Police Station to a destination they did not know.
“The suspect eventually turned out to be our client’s husband Mr. John Okon, who eventually was confirmed dead at the Barau Diko General Hospital and kept in the Mortuary afterwards.
“We strongly appeal to your esteemed office sir, not only to condemn this gruesome and barbaric act of murder by your men, but to arrest, prosecute and bring them to book and made to face the wrath of the law.
“Incidentally and unfortunately sir, our client the wife of the deceased, had forced labour on Tuesday, 13th day of November, 2018 and delivered of her pregnancy, out of gruesome pains and depression she experienced from her husband’s ordeal, prematurely.
“Neither the Police Commissioner nor the Governor of Gombe State has personally contacted the wife and family of the deceased as at the 15th day of November, 2018, but was told on phone, by same ASP Jummai, that our client died and his corpse was laying at Barau Diko General Hospital Mortuary, Kaduna.
“Sir, your swift intervention, investigation and prosecution of all culprits in the interest of justice in this murderous case is highly solicited for in the circumstance”. Counsel to the petitioner, Barr. Gloria Mabeiam Ballason,Esq. regretted the lack of sanctity to human life in the country. She noted that the country cannot amount to anything worthy, if people do not matter.
Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State in whose house the unfortunate incident started from refused several times to appear before the presidential investigation panel on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad over the death of one of his personal aides. Chairman of the panel who is also the Executive Secretary of the National Human Right Commission, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, said the governor refused to honour the panel’s summon, even when the governor was said to have been in Abuja.
Ojukwu said counsel to the governor knew that the panel was rounding off but “decided to frustrate his coming”
PowerSteering News Magazine gathered that ASP Jummai and indeed Gabasawa Police Station is notorious for such gruesome acts but on this particular case had received express instructions from the governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Danwambo to carry out that act.
Meanwhile, the relatives of the deceased are speculating that their brother has been used for ritual by the politicians who could do all kinds of unimaginable things to further their political aspirations.
Those who have worked closely with the governor alleged that Ibrahim Dankwambo is mean and heartless and considers the lives of the less privileged especially non-northerner to be worthless.

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Bogoro’s Giant Strides at TETFund

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First published, December 2015
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has come a long way in aid of higher institutions of learning in the country. The release of intervention funds for the building of classrooms, laboratories, well stocked and equipped libraries have no doubt made learning more meaningful and conducive for students in the ivory towers across the country.
The Act 2011 repealed the Education Tax Act Cap E4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Education Tax Fund (Amendment) Act No.17, 2003 and established TETFund charged with the responsibility of managing and disbursing education tax to public tertiary education institutions in Nigeria. To enable TETFund achieve its objectives, the Act imposes a 2% education tax on the assessable profit of all registered companies in Nigeria.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is empowered by the Act to assess and collect the education tax. The Fund administers the tax imposed by the Act and disburses the amount to tertiary educational institutions at federal and state levels. It also monitors the projects executed with the funds allocated to the beneficiaries.
TETFund has become such a strong institution that people hardly know that is headed by an international scholar of repute, Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, who is silently pulling the strings in making sure that federal and state-owned tertiary institutions receive the needed support from the federal government.
Nigerians who have been clamoring for strong institutions and not strong individuals can now heave a sigh of relief, if what is happening at TETFund is anything to go by. Since his appointment as the Executive Secretary of TETFund on April 14, 2014, Prof. Bogoro has left no one in doubt as to what he can do with public funds. Given his performance at TETFund, Nigerians especially those in the education sector have continued to shower encomiums on this Professor of Animal Science and Consultant / Project Team Leader on several projects for the World Bank, UNDP, USAID, Nigeria Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), among others.
Stakeholders’ comments on TETFund’s service delivery under the visionary leadership of Bogoro include: “TETFund is one of the agencies that have showed appreciable level of performance” – Leadership newspaper’s opinion poll of July 1, 2015;. “TETFund under Prof. Bogoro is working; taxpayers money is well utilized. If you come to Yabatech, apart from infrastructure, we are now bridging the gap between industry and classroom. Without TETFund, it would have been impossible” – Dr Margaret Ladipo, Rector Yabateh, Lagos; “almost all infrastructures in public institutions can be credited to TETFund” – Dr Hans Senwa, provost College of Education Katsina-Ala, Benue state; “it is a thing of joy for us to associate with Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, an achiever who has greatly used his good office to improve the standard of education in Nigeria” – Prof. Stephen Malo, VC Solomon Lar University, Bokkos, Plateau state.
Others are: “Our major projects are being funded by TETFund under the leadership of Prof. Bogoro, we thank God this bold initiative by TETFund is coming at a time that the University is rated as no one in the country” – Prof. Faraday Orumwense, VC University of Benin; “To God be the Glory that TETFund made funds available in order for us to realize our dreams – “Prof. Edeoga, VC Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State. “We acknowledge the role TETFund has been playing in helping to fund some of the projects in our institutions” – VC Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University,Bauchi; “We commend Bogoro as a pragmatic administrator for his thoughtfulness and concern for the welfare of his people and education development in Nigeria” – Gen Yakubu Gowon, GCFR. “We praise Bogoro for funding research and infrastructural developments in tertiary institutions” – Prof. Musbau Akanji, VC, FUT, Minna.
“TETFund under Bogoro has become an international brand with some African countries visiting Nigeria to study this organisation in order to replicate same in their respective countries”- Olumide Afolabi, public affairs analyst; “We remain grateful to TETFund under the visionary leadership of Prof. Bogoro for his support on training of teaching and non-teaching staffs as well as on research grants”- Prof. Jelil Oguntola, Acting VC Osun State University; “TETFund under Bogoro is a blessing to Nigerian Tertiary institutions, attributing the success of the college to the agency’s financial support, we commend TETFund for the efficient disbursement of funds to tertiary institutions across the country” – Dr. Emmanuel Adeniyi Provost, College of Education (Special) Oyo state; “We appreciate TETFund for ensuring that theories that were impacted on students of institutions became transformed into practical experience, through series of capacity buildingprogrammes” – VC Federal University of Agriculture,Abeokuta.
We commend TETFund for funding the construction of several modern buildings within the College, among which include Library, a formal and informal building, an ultra-media laboratory, technical and vocational building” – Dr, Patrick Uko, Provost Akwa Ibom state College of Education; “Members of the civil society collation undertook fact finding mission to universities, polytechnics, and specialized colleges in the 6 geo-political zones of the country, and we are proud of what we saw on ground by way of infrastructural development facilitated by TETFund” – Coalition of 13 civil society organizations in Nigeria; “TETFund –sponsored projects situated at Federal Colleges of Education across the country are appreciated and must be protected” – Prof. Monday Joshua, Executive Secretary National Commission for Colleges of Education.
With these opinions of stakeholders in our tertiary institutions of learning across the country on the numerous successes of TETFund under the visionary leadership of Bogoro in just one year of his appointment, the goal of taking the educational sector to the mountain top is realisable.

By Ibrahim: A Public Affairs Analyst, Wrote from Offa, Kwara State

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