By Ebun Sessou & Chigoziri Onuoha
It is very worrisome how beggars are gradually turning Lagos, the centre of excellence into centre of beggars. One wonders if Lagos is now the only place where begging has been legalized. They are everywhere in the streets, on the highway, in traffic, and under the bridges. They have virtually become nuisance to the residents of Lagos. Many of them do not understand English Language, they speak Hausa or Kanuri and some were said to have come from Chad and migrate from the Northern parts of the country to other states including Lagos.
In Lagos however, street begging is a criminal offence as section 166 sub-section 1 (b) of the criminal code of Lagos state prohibits street begging with adequate penalty for offenders, but the government has been incapable of enforcing the law. In 2016, the Lagos State Government took 531 beggars out of the streets and camped them at Oko-Baba, Ebute Metta area of Lagos.
A visit to the camp revealed that some of the beggars engage in one business or the other. One of the lepers in the camp was a shoe cobbler, another, a lame man was into petty trade.
A beggar who identified himself as Sule said “I am from Kano state and I beg because I have no one to cater for my needs. The money I realize is what I use to cater for myself.
Meanwhile, a teacher, Mr. Amadi, argued that, instead of ridding Lagos streets of beggars or seeing them as constituting nuisance on the streets, the state government can control their population. According to him, “government can introduce disincentive measure to checkmate these people.
“I think they litter the streets because they are still in the business of producing children.
Another businessman Mr. Ishola noted that the government should build a befitting camp where the beggars can be visited from time to time. “The government needs to provide shelter for them because some of them are incapacitated and they never wished to be in their present condition”, he said.
But the unfortunate thing is that they have taken to begging as a profession. Those who save enough money to start some trading don’t consider that. They remain beggars even when they have enough money to start petty trading.