Lagos begins clampdown on street beggars, Destitute

In order to reduce cases of robbery in traffic as well as restore sanity in the state , Lagos State government is set to begin massive clampdown on street beggars, destitutes and mentally challenged in the state.

The state Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr. Olusegun Dawodu,
made the disclosure at a press briefing in Alausa, Ikeja, on Wednesday.

To achieve this objective, the state has set up a large task force comprising the police, social workers, volunteers, and caregivers to carry out the state wide operation.

According to the Commissioner, beggars on the streets have constituted nuisance in the state, with many robbers disguising as beggars to rob motorists in traffic.

“Beggars on our streets and roads constitute considerable nuisance to law abiding citizens who are entitled to go about their businesses without any fear or hindrance. The Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration will not fold his arms and watch the state become a haven for beggars, it will take action to curb this menace,” he said.

He added without curbing the menace “all the good plans and programmes to transform our state would be adversely affected.”

He lamented the “Big Business” street begging has become to some groups of people.

“Our investigation revealed that beggars and hawkers (Children and Adults) are transported regularly from other parts of the country to Lagos with the sole aim of doing this odious “business” that demeans humanity and abuses innocence in the case of children, who are being pushed into this degrading trade.

These groups of people have turned alms begging and hawking into a huge business by collecting returns from beggars and hawkers, who incidentally, sleep under the bridges, motor parks, uncompleted or abandoned buildings and other places not conducive for human habitation.

If there is ever a time for us to roll up our sleeves and toil day and night for this menace to be confined to the dustbin of history in Lagos State, it is now. Of course, the reasons for this are not far-fetched. The activities of these people on our streets impede human movement and vehicular traffic, constitute environmental nuisance and worst still, constitutes security threats.

Intelligence reports have revealed that some of the so-called beggars go about with dangerous weapons, they assault and rob innocent Lagosians. Therefore, as a government, we cannot afford to let this continue,” he further said.

He added: ” Thus, a Special Team has been set up to tackle this menace frontally. The operation of this Special Team will commence in the next few days. The task we are undertaking is not only to sanitize our society, but also to restore the dignity of these set of people who have been sent on to the streets for alms begging and hawking.

Those arrested, the Commissioner said, would be rehabilitated by the state at various rehabilitation centres across the state, by providing them with treatment, psychosocial therapy and vocational training with the aim of making them useful to themselves and the society.

He quoted Section 157 {1(b)and(e) of the Criminal Law 2015 of Lagos State and Section 168 {1(b), (e)and (f)}, as well as Section 276 which prohibits begging and prescribe a penalty of N15,000 and N45,000 or imprisonment for three months for offenders.

He also cited Section 26 of the Childs Right Laws which makes the use of children for begging an offence, and Section 210 (7) which prescribes a penalty of 10-years imprisonment.

Dawodu said this year alone, the ministry in collaboration with the police have arrested and rescued a total of 728 street beggars and destitutes out of which 347 were adult males, 241 females and 64 toddlers.

He appealed to ” all Lagosians, to join hands with us in building a prosperous and peaceful society where we can all go about our lawful activities without fear or hindrance.

The Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu said the police is ready to enforce the law banning street begging to curb criminal activities in the state, adding several people have been arrested in traffic claiming to be beggars but were later found out to be robbers.

He warned those sponsoring street beggars to desist as they will also be arrested.

By Anthonia Duru

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