The Lagos State Government said Monday that anyone caught employing children to beg faces a ten-year prison sentence as the state cracks down on individuals who engage in street begging and selling.
Mr. Segun Dawodu, the Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, revealed this during a press conference to present a special team that would raid the state’s nooks and crannies to remove beggars, miscreants, and street hawkers.
He stated that the mission would be carried out in collaboration with the Nigerian Police.
Dawodu explained that the action was necessary since some of those soliciting are armed and intend to rob cars and residents.
Between January and July 2021, 728 beggars, destitutes, and hawkers were detained, including 345 adult males, 241 adult females, and 142 minors, according to the commissioner.
“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. This is what the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu promised Lagosians upon assumption of office. This is what it is delivering; this is what it will continue to deliver.
Lagos State is one of the world’s fastest growing cities, with a population of over 20 million people. Lagos State is home to people from every ethnic group in the country, with hundreds of people arriving daily in quest of a better life. Pressure on infrastructure and societal issues are among the consequences of this inflow of people.
The road to our desired destination of “A Greater Lagos” has, among other man-made obstacles, “street begging”. This is the whole essence of today’s briefing. It is to acquaint everyone, especially the fourth estate of the realm, with the concerted efforts that the Lagos State Government, through the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, which is saddled with the responsibility of tackling this issue, has made.”
Mr. Babajide Sanwo-administration, Olu’s he said, “would not fold its arms and watch while the state becomes a refuge for beggars; instead, it will take steps to control the scourge.”
He went on to say that street begging is a societal sin that the government cannot afford to wait until it reaches an uncontrolled level before intervening; else, all of the state’s good intentions and programs would be jeopardized.
The same goes for street hawking. This has become big business 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 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.