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Lagos raises alarm over rise in drug peddlers, beggars

Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Sports, Youths and Social Development, Mr Junaid Kamal, made the disclosure during a ministerial press briefing to commemorate…

Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Sports, Youths and Social Development, Mr Junaid Kamal, made the disclosure during a ministerial press briefing to commemorate the third year of Governor Fashola’s administration.

Addressing newsmen, Kamal, who said there was an increase in the number of beggars in the state, noted that the state could not arrest the peddlers as it was the duty of the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the police, giving areas where the drug peddlers carried out their nefarious business as Liverpool area in Apapa, Agege, Mushin and Ojuelegba.

Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the governor in the ministry, Dr Enitan Dolapo Badru, has reiterated the government commitment rid the streets of Lagos of beggars and destitute saying henceforth, “it is a criminal offence to engage in begging in Lagos.”

According to Badru, an investigation by the state revealed that begging has been turn into to a huge business in Lagos by people suspected to be businessmen.  He complained that the rehabilitation centre where the state used to take beggars could not take up to 4,000 people whereas his office picked dozens of beggars from the roads across Lagos on a daily basis.

Giving reasons why the state has recently engaged in repatriating beggars arrested in Lagos back to their states and countries, Badru noted that in 2009, a total of 4,156 beggars were arrested in the state and taken to Owutu rehabilitation centre in Ikorodu, a suburb of Lagos.

He said the rescue of beggars from the streets of Lagos was a continuous exercise by his office and other security agencies. He added that the state government has also handed over 13 beggars and two destitutes to the Embassies of Benin Republic and Republic of Niger in the past one year for onward integration with their families.

The Special Adviser also said the state has been witnessing more beggars from the northern part of the country particularly Sokoto, Kano and Kaduna and Oyo, Edo and Ekiti States in the south, noting that whenever the state wrote to liaison offices of affected states to come and pick their citizens who have been arrested for begging in Lagos, “If they refuse to come after reminders, we’ll be free to take decision that is in the best interest of the state,” he said.

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