There is an increase in the number of homeless children living in places like bridges, main roads, and shops in Kano State at night. This has become worrisome to residents as many expressed fears of likely security threat. Daily Trust Saturday takes a look at the situation.
Residents within Kano metropolis have raised alarm over an increase in the number of homeless minors sleeping in absurd places. Many have described the rising trend as a bad omen to the historical peace in the state.
The increase in the number of homeless minors is seen as another menace that may culminate into a serious insecurity as a good number of young children of school age were seen roaming the streets during the day as scavengers and sleeping under shops’ verandas at night.
It was gathered that in the Sabon Gari area of Fagge Local Government, the presence of these homeless children has become so rampant that residents have started to raise alarm on their plight as their upkeep is not entrusted in the hand of anyone.
These children are also spotted around Zoo Road, Kano railway station, Bello Road and other places.
Indeed, it is an unpleasant sight to see these children sleeping down in the night at some absurd places. These children, according to findings by Daily Trust Saturday, get their meals from the proceeds of their scavenging activities, as well as the mercy of some residents.
However, investigation by our correspondent revealed that most of these kids are not from Kano State but neighbouring states bedeviled by either insurgency and other security challenges. Findings have show that these children are usually from Katsina, Yobe, Borno, Zamfara and parts of Kaduna states.
Moreover, most of the children are victims of peer group influence, as well as few runaway almajirai who were not monitored closely.
‘We have nowhere to go’
Abba Bala, a 13-year-old-boy from Kamuya Wuru in Yobe State, said he was a victim of insurgency. He lost his father and was brought to Kano by someone who lied to him that he would take him to his mother, who hails from Adamawa and lives in Kaduna.
“I have not seen my mother for a very long time. When we were coming here we boarded a truck to Kwanar Dawaki and entered Kano city. But few days later, he ran away and left me alone. I don’t know anyone here and I don’t know anywhere else to go, neither do I have money to go back. I have been sleeping at the veranda of a shop. I hardly get something to eat; sometimes I eat from people’s remnants,” he said.
Asked whether he smokes any dangerous substance, the boy said he only took cigarettes, not drugs and other intoxicants. “I don’t take drugs. I started smoking because I was told that it would always ease my hunger,” he said.
Another 14-year-old homeless boy, Muhammad Abdullahi, who sleeps in the streets of Sabon Gari after the activities of the day, said he came to Kano to look for money but the situation turned out to be different for him. He hails from Adamawa State.
He said, “l thought there were many things to do to get money in the city, but when I came, I found out that things were not as rosy as I thought. I now sleep in the street at the veranda of a shop. Sometimes I sleep in the mosque. I scavenge for valuables at refuse dumps to sell and feed myself. I smoke and take some drugs; however, several times I attempted to stop but I could not.”
Also, a 12-year-old Umar Abdullahi has been roaming Zoo Road in a group of his peers, scavenging to make a living. According to him, he came from Batsari in Katsina State after losing his parents to insurgency. He said he came to Kano to escape the troubles, but since then, he has been living in the streets of Kano.
“I do not have anybody in Kano, neither do I have anybody in Katsina as a relative. The relatives I know are my friends, with whom we move and sleep together. We sleep very late under the pavement of shops around Zoo Road and wake up very early. Most of us do not have any relative in Kano. We are surviving the way we are,” Abdullahi said.
Reacting to the situation, Mrs Mary Joseph, a businesswoman in Sabon Gari said it was disheartening to see young children passing the night in the streets. She explained that residents had no option than to be wary of these kids as they seem to be a serious threat to their security, adding, “I can’t help but wonder where the parents of these innocent kids are.”
Another resident of Sabon Gari, Mr Bitrus Bitrus, said it was unfortunate that the families of these children could not take proper care of them. He also blamed the government for not doing the right thing.
“I blame the government because it has the power to gather all these children and ask them where they came from and take them back. We are calling on the Kano State Government to please help us evacuate them from here and take them back to their families because their behaviours are very scary,” he said.
Usman Eder, a shop owner along Zoo Road said the most troublesome aspect of the situation was the way the boys mingled with other grown homeless people. “It is unfortunate that you would find these minors sleeping at corridors of shops with grown up homeless people. And in most cases, these homeless adults are criminals and ex-convicts. I was told that in Sabon Gari, these minors have been introduced to a criminal gang called “Arobaga. They move in a group of not less than 5 to over 20 with arms in the night,” he said.
However, the operation commandant of a vigilante group in Sabon Gari, Suraj Ali, said they had been dealing with the situation, revealing that it is one of the biggest challenges in the area. He added that his group, in collaboration with the police, had been doing a lot to put the situation under control in order to ensure sanity in the area.
“The worst thing is the way these boys are exposed to wrongdoing at a tender age. It is unfortunate that a boy of 13 years can hold a knife to hurt people while trying to rob them. As security agents at the grassroots level we have always been trying our best to tackle this problem and prevent it from escalating, especially in Sabon Gari community,” he concluded.
When contacted on the issue, Director Public Enlightenment Ministry of Women Affairs Hajiya Aishatu Haruna said, Kano state government is seriously concern on the plight of the homeless minors adding that the current state administration has a lot of plans to address the menance but can’t pre-empty them publically.
“The new Kano state administration under Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf has put in place several plans that will adequately address the plight of these innocent kids. However, we can’t publically pre-empty these plans, but I assure you you will soon see what the state government will come up with,” she said.