Lagos seeks to ban street begging, says beggars are a ‘nuisance’
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CAPE TOWN - The Lagos state government says it has set up a special team to stop street begging and hawking in Nigeria’s most populous state, with authorities linking crime to the growing number of beggars.
According to a report by the BBC, the state official in charge of youth and social development, Olusegun Dawodu, told journalists on Thursday that beggars and hawkers including children, were being transported from other parts of the country to the city.
Street begging is illegal in Lagos and carries a fine of around N15,000 (US$36) and up to three months’ imprisonment, according to the Guardian newspaper.
Authorities in Lagos have suggested that beggars have become a ‘nuisance’ to law abiding citizens.
Local media on Thursday quoted authorities as saying police had raised an alarm over the menace of robbers disguising themselves as beggars to attack residents in the city of just over 14.8 million people, as per the World Population Review.
Authorities in Nigeria began cracking down on beggars and hawkers in 2016, despite a widespread outcry and condemnation from human rights groups and campaigners who warned that the policy had already resulted in the persecution of tens of thousands of disabled and mentally ill citizens.
President Muhammadu Buhari said during a meeting with security chiefs on Thursday he was concerned about hunger and the endemic poverty facing Nigerians, which could be a contributing factor to the growing number of beggars on the streets of Lagos, according to a report by online news site Pulse Nigeria.