The Federal Government, yesterday, arraigned the Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Mr. Dickson Akor, before the Federal High Court in Abuja, over his alleged involvement in N1.4 billion recruitment scam. Akor, who was docked on a 90-count criminal charge, was accused of extorting money from applicants seeking to join the corps.
Arrested Peace Corps members The Incorporated Trustees of the Corps was equally cited as the 2nd defendant in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/45/2017. Meanwhile, Akor pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as trial Justice John Tsoho granted him N30 million bail.
Specifically, the judge gave the Peace Corps boss bail to the tune of N10 million, stressing that he must produce a surety who will also deposit another N20 million. The court maintained that the surety must not only be resident in Abuja, but must also own a landed property within the Federal Capital Territory.
It directed that a copy of title documents of the property must be submitted to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court in charge of litigation. More so, the court seized the international passport of the defendant, saying he should submit his two recent passport photographs along with that of the surety.
Before adjourning the case till May 2 for trial, Justice Tsoho ordered that the defendant should be remanded in Kuje Prison pending fulfilment of all bail conditions. Earlier, Akoh, who was brought to court from police detention, through his lawyer, Mr. John Ochogwu, begged the trial judge to grant him bail on self-recognition or on very liberal terms pending the determination of the matter.
Ochogwu told the court that his client was previously granted administrative bail by the police. While opposing the bail request, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Aminu Alilu, insisted that Akor has the means to influence some of the proposed witnesses if released from custody.
In an 18-paragraphed counter-affidavit, the prosecution noted that Akor was arrested and kept in detention when he failed to make himself available to the police after he was granted administrative bail.
However, in a bench ruling, Justice Tsoho said he was minded to exercise his discretion in favour of the applicant, noting that the charge does not involve capital offence. The trial Judge held that the prosecution failed to “raise any serious point” capable of persuading the court to deny the defendant bail.
He dismissed as speculative, allegation that the defendant would compromise the witnesses. “I hold the considered view that the prosecution has not shown any special or exceptional basis to inhibit exercise of my discretion in favour of the applicant,” Justice Tsoho added. In the charge, the defendants were 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.
They were also accused the defendants 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 accused of obtaining money by false pretence 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.
In count-86, FG charged the defendants for organising and training of members of Peace Corps of Nigeria as a quasi- Military organization contrary to section 6(1)(a) of the Public Order Act, Cap P42, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act. Count 88 of the charge accused them of unauthorised 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 licence contrary to section 1(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. Under the offence of obtaining money by false pretence, FG alleged that Akor and Incorporated Trustees of Peace Corps of Nigeria, had between January 1, 2013 and March 6, 2017, committed an offence to wit: by false pretence and with intent to defraud, obtained for yourselves the sum of N274, 712, 126. 18 from unsuspecting citizens of Nigeria who paid into your Eco bank’s account No. 4582022099.