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Inside world of Abuja corporate beggars

She narrated how a girl of 16 walked up to her while she was buying foodstuff in the market

Corporate begging has become a popular source of income for many Nigerians. In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), parks, malls, supermarkets, markets, airports and religious institutions record a high number of individuals who seek for help on a daily basis, using different strategies. Daily Trust spoke to some victims of this practice and now reports.


Peter Cole, a businessman, also narrated how he fell victim to a corporate beggar at one of the parks in Abuja. “I remember standing at the park waiting to be attended to when a nicely dressed man walked up to me and asked if I could spare him few minutes of my time. Because there was queue, I decided to pay attention to the man. He started narrating how he used his last money to travel from Port-Harcourt to Abuja and how he was stranded. He started by asking if I could give him some money to pay for a guest house, and proceeded to ask for transport fare, saying he had a family who stayed on the outskirts.

“I found it very confusing that a man who was that nicely dressed would travel without cash. I remember I had about N7,000 on me, so I decided to give the man N3,000 to at least help him get some food and transport himself to where his family was,” Cole said.

The businessman also told Daily Trust Saturday  he encountered a corporate beggar at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport. According to him, a woman with her child had approached him at the car park to narrate her situation.

“She came to me and said her child was sick and she didn’t have money to get him drugs,” he said, adding that out of pity on her situation, he was able to give her N5,000.

He, however, said, “Oftentimes, when I tell people that I helped someone, they always tease me; but I believe in giving, whether your story is true or not. I try to help those in need.”

Mary Inyang, a student, narrated her encounter with a woman at a supermarket in Apo, saying, “I was stepping out of the supermarket when a woman approached me, complaining that she didn’t have money to feed her four kids. She was poorly, such that one could assume she had no means of catering for her children. I knew I could not walk away from her, considering her state, so I went back to the store and picked few things I thought she and her children could eat.”

Mary added that she wanted to ask the woman for her husband’s phone number, but she decided otherwise so that she would not appear insensitive to her plight.

She recalled how she felt good to have been able to help the woman and her family. She, however, said that when she was about to drive out, a security man at the store walked up to her and said the woman was always around the store begging, adding that sometimes she would send her children so that she would not run into the same ‘helper’ twice.

She said her experience had hindered her from helping others.

Another victim, Susan Chukwuemeka, told Daily Trust that after her encounter at the market with a corporate beggar, she swore never to fall victim again.

“These so-called beggars prey on the empathy of human beings because they know that out of 10 people, six may be willing to help,” she said.

She narrated how a girl of 16 walked up to her while she was buying foodstuff in the market, crying that she was about to be thrown out of school because of fees.

She took pity on the girl and decided to give her N2,000, promising to go back to the market to check on the girl as she could not be reached on phone.

“When I saw that young girl, I took pity on her because she appeared as if education meant the world to her. I had already spent most of my money on foodstuff, so I gave her N2,000 and asked for her phone number so that I could keep up with her. But she said she didn’t have a phone, so I decided that I would ask of her when next I came to the market,” she said.

Susan said she realised that she had been exploited when she saw the girl remitting the whole money to a woman who wasn’t standing far away. According to her, when she asked the woman who sold foodstuff to her about the girl, she was told that she and her mother were known beggars in the market.

“The woman told me that the girl and her mother moved around different sections of the market, making up stories and appealing to people to help them. Such people cause a lot of distrust. One can no longer help people because one doesn’t know who is speaking the truth.

“I find it sad that a mother who could preferable hawk or sell food would use her daughter to beg for money. She doesn’t understand what danger she is exposing the child to, especially a place like the market where she could easily be attacked or violated,” she said.

When he alighted from the taxi that took him from Lugbe to Berger roundabout, Rilwan Ibrahim was approached by a young lad who was smartly dressed. According to him, the young man said, ‘Please oga, I am going to my brother’s house and I have been walking for a long distance, I am not begging for money but food. Please help me.’

Touched by his appeal, Ibrahim, who was in a haste to board the next vehicle to where he was going, gave out the sum of N500 to help the man.

“The next day, I was in Wuse market and I met him again telling the same story to seek for money,” he said.

Our reporters further learnt that the beggars are mostly dressed in nice clothes; hence they are referred to as corporate, but armed with stories of challenges, mostly false, that require money. They move from one part of the city to another.

Sunday Emmanuel said a man met him, asking for N3,000 to pay for the bill of his wife who put to bed at the General Hospital, Life Camp, Gwarimpa.

“He waved two N1000 notes to me, saying his bill was N5,000 but he needed N3,000 to complete it. Out of kindness, I gave him N3,000, thinking that I had helped someone in need. Few minutes later, I drove down to the street and met him asking another person for the same amount, with the same story,” he narrated.

Emmanuel said that on another occasion, a man told him that he was just released from Kuje Prison and was in need of N1,500 to go to his house in Madalla, Niger State.

“When he said that, I was sceptical of his story, so I asked how he got to Jabi from Kuje. He said he got a lift from someone, but I knew he was lying because from Kuje, the person should have dropped him at Berger roundabout, where he could easily get a cab to Madalla,” he said.

He, however, said that out of pity, he gave him N500 since he had a little money to spare.

Onome Audu also told one of our reporters that on his way home a certain night, a woman and her children asked for money to enable them go to Zuba from Lugbe.

According to her, “I gave her N500, considering the time of the day and the children. But on another day, I saw the same woman and her children asking someone for money. I passed in front of her to hear what she would say, and she gave the same story. I just shook my head and passed without giving her any money,”

Isah Ismaila said corporate beggars (men and women) approached him on a daily basis, so he no longer gives money to them.

“They will come to the mosque to beg, telling all sorts of lies. This shows how stone-hearted they have become because, in Islam, begging while you are able-bodied is frowned at. But these people tell lies to make a living,” he noted.

Ismaila attributed the act of begging to lack of contentment and laziness to do menial jobs that would fetch them money to cater for their little needs.

“Even if they hawked sachet water daily, they would get money to put food on the table. The economic situation in the country should not make someone to make a living through lies and deceit,” he said.

Similarly, Doshima Gabriel said a teenager once met her at Utako, asking for money to eat, and she gave her N50 from her transport money. On another occasion, he met her again, saying the same thing.

“I was with a friend on that day and she said the boy had also begged from her before. We asked his age and he said he was 13 years old. He said he was begging to feed himself because his father was late,” she also narrated, adding that she advised him to start selling sachet water to feed.

According to her, since then she stopped giving money to such beggars.

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