Friday , June 21 2024

Lagos goes tough on beggars, begins massive arrests

Lagos goes tough on beggars, begins massive arrests

·       Says begging now ‘huge’ businesses

Worried by the rate of crimes perpetrated by suspected beggars and criminals who disguise as beggars to rob unsuspecting motorists and residents, the Lagos State Government yesterday said it would begin a massive onslaught on beggars across the state.

The government said that it had discovered that some groups of people transported children and adults regularly from other parts of the country to Lagos with the sole aim of doing “begging business”, adding that it would not fold its harm and allow the state to be a safe haven for the “business that demeans humanity and abuses innocent children.

Briefing journalists on the stance of the state government on the rising numbers of beggars and crime rates perpetrated by the criminal elements, who often disguise as needy, the Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Olusegun Dawodu, said a Special Team had been set up to tackle the menace frontally. He added operation of this Special Team would commence in the next few days, adding that the team would not only sanitize the society, but also to restore the dignity of the of people who have been sent on to the streets for alms begging and hawking.

Dawodu, who was accompanied Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso and the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, vowed to eradicate street begging by all means. He emphasised that beggars on Lagos streets and roads constituted considerable nuisance to law abiding citizens who are entitled to go about their businesses without any fear or hindrance.

He said: “As a responsible and responsive government, the Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration will not fold its arms and watch the State becomes a haven for beggars, it will take action to curb this menace. Street begging is a social vice that we cannot afford to watch attain uncontrollable level before we act. Otherwise, all the good plans and programmes to transform our state would be adversely affected. The same goes for Street Hawking.

“This has become big business for 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 bridges, motor parks, incomplete or abandoned buildings and other places not conducive to human habitation,” he said.

To tackle this menace, Dawodu said that the Lagos State Government through the Rehabilitation and Child Development Department of the Ministry of Youth and Social Development has maintained a Rescue Unit saddled with the responsibility of rescuing and protecting the destitute and the vulnerable.

“For the purpose of clarity on this issue, Section 157{1(b)and(e) of the Criminal Law 2015 States that nuisance is any person who prevents the public from having access to any part of a highway by an excessive and unreasonable use of it or does any unlawful act which causes inconveniences or damage to the public This is also well corroborated by Section 168 {1(b), (e)and (f)} as well as Section 276 which apart from prohibiting begging goes further to prescribe a penalty of Fifteen Thousand Naira (#15,000) for the first offence and for every subsequent offence to a time of Forty Five Thousand Naira (#45,000) or imprisonment for three months or both, An offender under this Section may be arrested without warrant.”

Also speaking, Odumosu said the police were partnering with the government to enforce the laws already in place by ensuring that beggars were taken off the streets of Lagos.

“We will enforce the law, our mission is to let them know that we will enforce the law already in place. Some criminals are now pretending to be begging and they are robbers. If we are able to collaborate with the government and remove all these miscreants off the road, the better for Lagos. We will take them off the streets. The sponsors of these beggars would also be taken care of,” Odumosu said.

About Ayinla Muritala

Agbede is a seasoned Journalist with more than a decade experience as the fourth estate of the realm. He is a graduate of Mass Communication from the Univeristy of Ilorin and currently freelance with few of the Nigerian Dailies.

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