April 22, 2024

Lagos Assembly to criminalises street begging

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Lagos Assembly to criminalises street begging

– mulls law against giving alms to street beggars

Etim Ekpimah

Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday discussed the idea of a law to curb street begging across the state.

The law, if it comes into existence, would also penalise the encouragement of street begging by residents. In this way, it would be an offence to give money to a street beggar.

Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, who described street begging as a menace taking over the state, agreed with the lawmakers at plenary that criminal elements have taken over the streets disguised as beggars.

Reacting to the motion brought by Hon. Abiodun Orekoya and some of his colleagues, Dr Obasa noted how previous administrations in the state made efforts to curb street begging, but that the challenge had not abated.

Obasa emphasised the need for a law that would criminalise street begging and penalise individuals who give money to beggars on the roads.

“When we address the source, then we can curb it. When you go on the road, you find children between the ages of five and six begging. It means there are established groups of people benefiting from this. They warehouse and provide for them.

“Beyond the child rights law, we should come up with another law that speaks to begging and giving. We must come up with genuine laws and institutions that handle begging.

The Speaker said the proposed law should aim to establish a centre where individuals who wish to give alms can do so, while the centre would ensure that the alms reach those in need.

“The law will create a fund to be managed by people with integrity so that if you were in need, you would go there,” he said.

He said while this would help people fulfil their religious beliefs about almsgiving, it would also help curb street begging, reduce crime on the road and promote greater responsibility among residents.

The speaker said the smart city goal of the state cannot be achieved when beggars adorn the roads, inhibiting free movement and engaging in crime which include drug peddling and stealing from motorists.

He questioned how children as young as five or six manage to travel from other states to Lagos, suggesting that some individuals may be sponsoring and accommodating them.

Calling for a holistic approach to end the challenge, the Speaker said it was better to tackle it from the source which includes discouraging giving directly to the beggars on the road.

Obasa also urged local government chairmen to come up with ideas to manage street trading rather than thinking of outrightly chasing traders off the streets.

“Street trading happens across the world. It is for our council chairmen to come up with ideas better to manage the activities of traders in their domains.

“How do you build a shop and put it at N30 million? What will the traders be selling there?

If you remove them all, where do you also want them to go?” He asked.

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