Symbol of Justice
The Special Offences Court sitting in Alausa Monday ordered that 39 beggars raided in different parts of Lagos State be remanded in Kirikiri and Badagry Prisons for allegedly soliciting for alms on the streets and constituting nuisance in the public places.
Some of the beggars currently facing prosecution for allegedly constituting nuisance in the public include Fatima Jubril, Sanusi Muhammed, Lado Amadu, Badayani Garuba, Denyaya Isali, Beto Manu, Garuba Ibrahim, Aruna Yau, Dauda Amadu, Magada Salisu, among others
In a two-count charge preferred against them, the beggars were accused of conducting themselves as disorderly persons without means of livelihood and thus committed an offence under the criminal law of the state.
The charged also read in parts that the beggars "were conducting themselves in a manner likely to cause breach of peace and for receiving, demanding and or collecting dues or unauthorised levy from persons and thus committed offence punishable under the law on illegal collection of dues in public places."
The accused pleaded guilty to the two-count charge and were consequently detained in Kirikiri and Badagry as the court reserved the judgment till March. Nine of them were rejected at the prisons due to their disabilities, though were referred to the Lagos State Rehabilitation Home in Majidun, Ikorodu.
Some of the beggars prosecuted, THISDAY gathered, were said to have attacked government officials in a rampage at the Lagos State Rehabilitation Home, Majidun, the place where they were being rehabilitated.
Another set of 13 beggars were arraigned last week at the same Special Offences Court. Three of them were sentenced to 72 hours community service or pay a fine of N5,000, while 10 others were sentenced to a three-month imprisonment or pay fine of N10,000 each.
Speaking on the development, Special Adviser on Youth and Social Development, Dr. Dolapo Badru, said the state government prosecuted beggars because it had exhausted its patient with the beggars.
According to him, we still rehabilitate some of them, but most of them don’t want to be rehabilitated and they don’t want to work. They feel more comfortable preying on people with superstitious beliefs.
He explained that some people “believe if they are unlucky in certain cases or looking for certain ways to make it in life, what they need to do is to give alms to beggars so that their fortune can change.
“A lot of beggars are now preys of the superstitious belief. Many of them pretend to be blind, cripple, among others. They make more money than many people gainfully employed,” he said.
Badru said the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos had made it possible for barons to shift beggars to the metropolis to beg for alms, adding that many of them felt so comfortable begging for alms on roads.
“We have tried a lot to rehabilitate them by making some of them to learn trade, but they don’t want to work. Some of them don’t want to use the skill we taught them to work, but they prefer to be on the road because they make more money at a go than using their skills.”