The Lagos State Government on Wednesday vowed to eradicate street begging by all means and has set up a special team for the raid.
The government said it could not fold its arm and allow beggars turn Lagos to their haven.
At a joint news conference in Alausa, Lagos, the Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Olusegun Dawodu, 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.
“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 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,” he said.
According to Dawodu, if there was ever a time for government to roll up its sleeves and toil day and night for this menace to be confined to the dustbin of history in Lagos State, it was now, adding that the reasons for this were 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.
“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,” he added.
Dawodu said to tackle this menace, the government, through the Rehabilitation and Child Development Departments 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.
“This we do by combing the nooks and crannies of Lagos State to rescue and protect the destitute, mentally – challenged, street children and beggars off the streets; and after being rescued, Our Rehabilitation Centres and Child friendly Homes usually provide them with treatment, psychosocial therapy and vocational training with the aim of making them useful to themselves and the society.
“In embarking on this enforcement, we will also deploy a lot of human and material resources towards enlightenment and sensitization via different media platforms. As they say, “enlightenment becomes entertainment without enforcement”. That is why the way to go now is to enforce compliance with the laws of our state for sanity to reign in our society,” he stated.
The Commissioner called on Lagosians to join government in this war against beggars by not giving alms to them, but take such to orphanages.
Also speaking, Odumosu said the police were partnering with the government to enforce the law already in place by ensuring that beggars were taking 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 government and take away 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 taking care of,” Odumosu said.