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FCTA spends N24m to evacuate 1624 beggars in first half of 2021

Sep, 2021 | By Oji Moses | ||

The recent increase in incidences of petty theft, robbery, illicit drug peddling and other crimes like child trafficking have recently been traced to the influx of beggars; the unlikely and least suspected persons who dot the streets of Abuja. This assertion was made by the Acting Director, Social Welfare Services Department of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Social Development Secretariat, Mr. Atere Oludare, in his office while answering questions on the activities of the Department.

According to Mr. Oludare, the unprecedented surge in the number of this class of persons into FCT in the last three months is due to the ban placed on the trade in neighbouring states to the Federal Capital Territory like Nasarawa. His words, “The presence of beggars in the street corners, pedestrian bridges and busy roads pose a lot of menace to other residents of Abuja and so a grave worry to the FCT Administration.

“It may interest you to know that apart from being beggars, some of them have criminal tendencies. It has been discovered by our task team on apprehension of destitute and beggars that some of them act as agents of drug peddlers and have been known to steal from unsuspecting persons. They just pretend to be beggars but are really into other things”.

Mr. Oludare said this ugly development has necessitated swinging into action by the Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello led Administration, who has released over N24 million in tackling this menace in the first half of this year. He said the Social Development Secretariat has successfully apprehended, rehabilitated and repatriated over 1624 beggars to their various states this year alone.

He attributed this feat to the proactive nature of the Administration and its readiness to release funds to stem this tide. On why much beggars are found in Abuja, Oludare said begging is so lucrative a business here because we discovered through some of the beggars themselves that Abuja residents are good in giving and exhibit great milk of kindness towards the downtrodden.

“There was this particular woman who pretended to have breast cancer who had already made about eleven thousand naira around noon of that day before she was apprehended”, he added. Mr. Oludare gave another reason for such influx as the absence of official law in place that categorically bans begging in the Federal Capital Territory as Nasarawa State has done few months ago.

The Acting Director went further to say that begging has turned into a syndicate, saying the trend now is for some to rent children for begging and at the end of the day share their 'earning' with the mother of such children. “Others recruit grown-up children and send them to strategic places to beg and share the proceeds later. Some of these grown-ups we caught were handed over to NAPTIP for proper investigation because we are looking beyond begging as it were to the issues of exploitation and trafficking”.

He suggested a law banning begging in FCT, saying such will go a long way to help check the menace. 'If an apprehended beggar is prosecuted, it will deter others from the illegal trade.' On the nature of rehabilitation of the apprehended beggars, the Acting Director said the beggars evacuated from the streets are taken to Bwari Rehabilitation Centre where they are profiled; those willing to learn a trade are trained and given starter packs by FCT Administration.

“Others whose relatives are close to the FCT are called to take the beggars after writing an undertaking. We do repatriate those from far states to their states of origin where we hand them over to the authority there with their detailed information. The vehicles carrying them are always escorted by security, social workers and medical personnel”, he said.

As to why the business of begging has become a hydra-headed monster, the Acting Director said interrogated beggars always say they make more money begging than they would selling or doing any type of handwork. It is one of the easiest ways of making money without a trade. Mr. Oludare revealed that some of the beggars have mansions in their states; some are proud owners of motorbikes, tricycles and even vehicles. He said these beggars are used to quick money that they are unwilling to work.

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