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The Lagos State Government has banned street begging in the state, and has, therefore, moved to begin massive raid and clearance of beggars and street urchins from the streets in the state.

In order to achieve this, the state government has set up a special team for the raid, which began immediately.

At a joint news conference by the state Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Olusegun Dawodu; Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, and the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, in Alausa, Lagos, the state government vowed to eradicate street begging by all means.

The government also said it would not fold its arm and allow beggars to turn Lagos to their haven.

Dawodu emphasised that beggars in Lagos streets and roads have constituted themselves into considerable nuisance to law-abiding citizens who are entitled to go about their businesses without any fear or hindrance.

According to him, “As a responsible and responsive government, the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration will not fold its arms and watch the state become 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 abuse 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 as well as other places not conducive for human habitation.”

Dawodu stressed that if there was ever a time for the state government to roll up its sleeves and toil day and night for this menace to be confined to the dustbin of history in the state, it was now, adding that the reasons for this were not far-fetched.

He said: “The activities of these people in our streets impede human movement and vehicular traffic, constitute environmental nuisance and 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 sanitise our society, but also to restore the dignity of these people who have been sent onto the streets for alms begging and hawking.”

The commissioner said all hands must be on deck to discourage the inhuman culture of street begging.

The Commissioner for Police, Lagos Command, Mr Hakeem Odumosu, said the command would fulfil its constitutional responsibility to enforce all laws legally enacted.

The Police Commissioner appealed to those involved in aiding street begging and hawking to desist from it, as the enforcement of the law would be total.

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Julius Adegunna, a writer, and publisher of good news and reports. He is also a trainer in Writing and Publishing, a Media Consultant and an Entrepreneur. A 1987 Graduate of International Relations of the University of Ife, (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) with Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations, and Master in Communication Studies of Lagos State University. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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