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When hawking by children becomes business for parents, agents

Child labour, an act that jeopardizes and demeans the child’s potentials and dignity and is also harmful to his physical and mental development, plays out…

Child labour, an act that jeopardizes and demeans the child’s potentials and dignity and is also harmful to his physical and mental development, plays out in different menacing dimensions. Common among them is child street hawking. The phenomenon, which is also regarded as child rights abuse, despite the passage of the child rights act, occurs in appalling proportions and has become a big business for parents and even child hawkers too. Daily Trust takes a look at the trend across states.

The child street hawking scenario paints a vivid picture of child neglect and exploitation by parents and agents who push young children into what has, for them, become a business for not only survival but also material gains.

In urban cities where the business is commonly believed to be poverty-motivated thrives, children who are the major role players face different risks, especially rape, accident, ritual activities, as well as loss of educational opportunities.


In Kano, children between  ages10 and 14 hawk for over 12 hours a day. They defy rain and scorching sun and move from streets to streets and roads to sell items such as cold drinks, fruits, sweets,  biscuits etc.

Occasionally, they risk auto accidents because they hang around moving or stationery vehicles to hawk during traffic congestion.

Some of them who are privileged to attend schools find it difficult to attend classes regularly. Findings by Daily Trust Saturday indicated that  poverty is the major cause of the menace.

Ado Ali, 11, who hawks cold drinks at the popular Danagundi Junction, told our correspondent  that he hawks for survival.

“Even my siblings benefit from it because my mother is the one feeding us,” he said.

Another child, Sahabi, said that as an almajiri, he had no option but to hawk.

“These days, it is not easy to get food. Even when we go to some houses to beg for food, we hardly get any. That is why I engage myself in hawking to survive and to also look for money for my school’s weekly levy.”

Scores of children, particularly girls,  are  brought from villages to the city by agents who collect their  salaries at the end of the month and share with her family in the village.

Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Dr Zahra’u  Umar,  told Daily Trust Saturday that  government had set up a committee to formulate new policies to address child hawking and child labour menace in the state.

Recently, Governor Abdullahi  Ganduje lamented the lack of cooperation from neighbouring states as a bane in tackling the issue of almajiri, child hawking and labour in the state.

A child hawking



In Katsina, children of school age engage in hawking different types of commodities, including cooked food  at all times of the day.

A 12-year-old boy, Yusuf Shu’aibu, who was hawking during school hours said: “It is my mother who sends me out to sell.”

But when asked why he was not in school at the time, Yusuf kept mum.

Momi, a school girl who sells cooked spaghetti,  could not explain her reason for hawking.

Ismail Umar who hawks Choco milo, Trebor mint and other brands of sweets, said that he attends school from morning till 12 noon after which he goes out to hawk and, at the end of the day, takes his profit and gives the shop owner his money.

Umar said he was interested in learning. He plans to save proceeds from hawking for future business plans.

Two young boys hawking food (tuwo) said they were almajirai but hawk outside school hours.

“Our school is here at Kofar Kaura. When it is not school time, we go to a woman who gives us cooked food to sell. We hawk with other almajirai so that if anyone wants to feed them, they could buy from us.  With this, we don’t lack what to eat,” they said.

Recently, the Minister of State for Education,  Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, claimed Katsina State is the second-highest in out of school children in the country.

Governor Aminu Masari said in the efforts to tackle the menace, a total of 361,525 out of school children had been enrolled in schools across the state.

He said the figure represented 36 per cent of the state’s set target. The enrolment was done through Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) Programme.


In Edo State, child hawking  is still prevalent in the state despite passage of Child Rights Act.

They have moved to areas like Ikpoba  Hill, Sapele, Ugbowo and other areas where traffic is prevalent since hawking is prohibited around the popular Kings Square.

Apart from few hawkers who help their parents to hawk after school hours,  most of the hawker are from other states, as the children are always trafficked to Edo State and used for child labour.

In April this year, the Edo State  Police Command  rescued 19 children and one teenager allegedly trafficked from Ebonyi, Imo, Abia, Anambra and Akwa Ibom states for child labour and hawking in Edo.

The children, according to the police, were lured on the guise that Edo State Government was giving financial support  to children. But when they got to the state, they were subjected to street begging and being paid peanuts from the  proceeds.

Esther, 16, who sells walnut said she came from Sapele in  Delta State to hawk in the morning and go back in the evening.

According to her, she hawks to raise money to open a provision shop because she didn’t go to school nor learnt any trade.

John Ezechuwu, 15, from Eboyi State said he hawks to earn a living.

John who hawks insecticides on the Murtala Muhammed Way around Ikpoba Hill said he dropped  out of school due to lack of fund.

He said that he wanted to start a business but didn’t have money to open a shop.

“I am doing this to earn a living and save money. I learnt spare part  business but want to open a provision shop. I earn about N2,000 a day from hawking,”  he said.

Master Osaruyime Osahon hawks sachet water along Mission Road during holiday to help support his mother.

“I am in primary six. I hawk after school hours and during holiday. I am helping my mother to raise money for our school fee,” he said.

Children hawking



Child street hawking is also rampant in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Ibrahim, who hawks groundnut in both rain and sunshine, told  Daily Trust Saturday that he had been hawking for over a year in Abuja.

“Since me and my father left Kano to Abuja, I have been selling groundnut and using the money to take care of myself and also return some to my father,” he said.

“I start selling at 7am and I don’t go home till about 8pm. I must make sure that I sell all my groundnut. I only sell groundnut now because it is the season. When the season is over, I can sell something else like ginger, carrot, oranges.”

He added: “I don’t know how old I am, but my baba always says that I’m not more than 10 years.  I didn’t  attend primary school. I only attends Arabic and Islamic school.’

Ibrahim who said he didn’t know the whereabouts of his mother said that he was not sure whether his father worked anywhere as he usually left him at home alone everyday and remitted all his day’s proceeds to him whenever he returned from the streets.

He disclosed that he earned N2,500 from a full tray of groundnut on daily basis.

“Even when it’s raining, I still have to come to the road and sell. I always wait under a shed for the rain to stop and then go back to the road when the rain stops. Even if it rains throughout the day, I must go in the rain and sell,” he added.

Zainab said she always came to the market every day with their mother to sell. Zainab is a five-year-old girl who sells okra and other vegetables along the Utako and Wuye roads.

“My mummy sells vegetables in the market. After school, me and my sister come to the market and pick some of the vegetables to come and hawk on the streets,” she said.

She said that her family moved from Jos to Abuja five years ago. She and her siblings live with their parents at Phase 3 settlement, Wuye.

Zainab’s sister, Mariam, who is 13 years old and hawks garden eggs said she had been hawking since she was Zainab’s age.

“We hawk to be able to reach more customers on the road who aren’t in the market. When we finish selling our trays, we go back for refill until our mother is ready to close shop and we all go home together,”

According to her,  one full tray of garden eggs sells for N1,500. She earns N3,000 on daily basis if she’s able to sell two trays.

Mariam also hawks in the rain.

“We normally wait for the rain to reduce, then we go back to the streets. On such days, we usually wear long long dresses, oversized nylon bags and socks to protect ourselves from the rain.”

Mariam and her group are not scared of taskforce.  “Every time they come to raid, they throw away our trays with whatever we’re selling on the ground.  Some time,  they would seize them and warn us that when next they see us around, they would arrest us,” she said.


The menace of child street hawking and child labour is on the increase in Bauchi metropolis, especially at the ever-busy Wunti Junctions, major markets and other major cities across the state.

The propensity of the trend, usually causes serious traffic congestion and expose children and other road users to accidents.

Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the rapid increase in child street hawking  in the state is associated with the influx of displaced persons (IDPs) from the neighboring North-East states, and Plateau State.

Findings also indicated that the massive return of the Almajirai has also contributed to the growing menace in the state.

The Executive Chairman of Bauchi State Road Management and Traffic Agency (BAROTA),  Air Commodore Tijjani Baba Gamawa (Rtd), told Daily Trust Saturday that the agency had concluded plans to tackle the menace. Gamawa explained that no sensible  government would fold its hands and allow small children and other people with small tables block the roads and cause a lot of traffic congestion on the roads and markets.

“The menace of child hawkers, we have a plan to harmonize them because they are causing accident on the roads so that we have sanity within the metropolis.”


Aisha balances a tray of plantain on her head. She moves from one street to another looking for customers who would buy her items so that she could go home to take more. Just like Aisha, her other siblings also sell plantain. They do that on the instruction of their mother who insists  they must hawk to survive. The meagre money the woman makes from displaying her plantain outside her house is not enough to feed the family.

While defying the dangers of hawking for a young child, their mother who lives in Osundeyi Street in Oshodi, encourages them to go inside a compound and hawk if a customer asks them to bring items.

According to the CEO of a Lagos-based NGO, Oasis of God International Centre for Women and Children, Mr Samuel Okafor, the implications of hawking include sexual abuse of the girls and kidnapping of children while engaging in child labour.

“NGOs and governments can never stop children from helping their parents, especially if they are poor. Poverty rate is very high in Lagos as well as other parts of the country. This fuels the child labour in the state,” he said.

Some hawkers at Wunti Market Junction


To solve the child labour practice, he advised that poor women should be empowered to take care of their children without engaging them in labour at a tender age.

Okafor urged individuals, corporate organisations, NGOs as well as government to cater for the education of poor children for free. When education is not part of what their parents would bother about, child labour will reduce, he insisted.

The Lagos State Government has also lamented that street hawking has become a big business to some agents who transport children and adults from different parts of the country to the state to engage in hawking while they collect returns from them.

The Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr Olusegun Dawodu, disclosed that the business is not only dehumanizing but also an abuse of child rights.

He added that the agents collect returns from hawkers who sleep under bridges, motor parks, uncompleted or abandoned buildings and other places not conducive for human habitation. The activities, he said,  impede human movement, vehicular traffic and also constitute environmental nuisance and  security threats.

Investigation by Daily Trust Saturday also revealed that in addition to the risks that hawkers, particularly children are exposed to, some people  take advantage of them.  While some young girls get raped, boys get introduced to all manner of atrocities. They also fall prey to ritualists.

To tackle this menace frontally, Dawodu disclosed that a special team had been set up in collaboration with the police to sanitize and restore the dignity of hawkers.

The commissioner cited Section 157{1(b)and(e) of the Criminal Law 2015, which states that nuisance is any person who prevents the public from having access to any part of a highway by excessive and unreasonable use of it or does any unlawful act which causes inconveniences or damage to the public.

In the case of children, Section 26 of the Childs Right Laws makes it an offence, while Section 210 (7) prescribes a penalty of ten years imprisonment.

Dawodu warned that anyone who breaks the law irrespective of class and status would be prosecuted.

The Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu said it was the responsibility of the state government, in collaboration with the police, to enforce the law. He confirmed that street beggars and hawkers constitute security threat as some criminals disguise as hawkers in a bid to perpetrate evil.

He noted that all the DPOs and officers had been informed to be on the alert. He also appealed to sponsors of the hawkers to desist or face the wrath of the law.

In a chat with Daily Trust Saturday, some lawyers explained reasons child street hawking persists despite its illegality.

Former Second Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Onyekachi Ubani Esq, said that though the Child’s Rights Act and other laws prohibit child labour and hawking, several socioeconomic and cultural factors make enforcement difficult.

He added that  the lack of implementation of free education and other incentives for the less privileged aggravate the menace.

Chinelo Ogbozor Esq said the law was made without taking cognizance of the country’s social conditions.

“Do you have child services in Nigeria as it is obtainable overseas?” she asked rhetorically.

Nnamdi Ahaiwe Esq said the problem of the Child Rights Act is implementation due to complex traditions, culture and religion across the 36 states.

Clement Adeyi, John Cuks Azu, Rosemary Etim Bassey (Abuja), Lubabatu I. Garba (Kano), Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina),  Usman A. Bello, Hassan Ibrahim (Bauchi), Christiana T. Alabi & Risikat Ramoni (Lagos)

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