Lagos State government has set up a special team to stop street begging and hawking in the state.
The government has established a Special Task Force to curb the illicit ventures under which many criminals hide to strike at motorists and other residents.
During a press conference on Wednesday, at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, the Commissioner for Youth and Social Development Mr. Olusegun Dawodu, his Information and Strategy counterpart Mr. Gbenga Omotoso and Lagos State Commissioner of Police Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, broke the news.
Dawodu explained that state government established the task forced to sanitize society and restore the dignity of those sent into the streets to beg for alms and hawks.
The special team will begin operations in the next few days, the Commissioner said, adding that the plan to stop street begging is based on intelligence reports that some “so-called” beggars go about with dangerous weapons, assaulting and robbing innocent people Lagosians.
Street begging, in his opinion is a social vice that the government cannot afford to allow to reach an uncontrollable level in order not to affect good plans and programs for transforming the state.
“The road to our desired destination of ‘A Greater Lagos’ has, among other man-made obstacles – ‘street begging.’
“Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will not fold his arms and watch the state become a haven for beggars.
“This has become big business to some groups of people. Our investigation revealed that beggars and hawkers (children and adults) are regularly transported to Lagos from other parts of the country.
“This is 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,” said the commissioner.
He claims that these groups of people have turned alms begging and hawking into a huge business by collecting returns from beggars and hawkers, who often sleep under bridges, motor parks, and unfinished buildings.
“In embarking on this enforcement, we will also deploy a lot of human and material resources towards enlightenment and sensitization via different media platforms.
“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,” Dawodu said.
He encouraged the residents to donate to registered homes, orphanages, rehabilitation centers, and religious organizations and the resources would be judiciously utilized for the right purposes of improving the conditions of the vulnerable.
Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, Commissioner of Police, Lagos Command, said the command would perform its constitutional responsibility to enforce all laws legally enacted.
Odumosu urged those involved in street begging and hawking to desist from it, since law enforcement would be total.