The Lagos State House of Assembly says it will introduce a law that will criminalize street begging and prevent residents and visitors from giving alms to professional beggars across the state.
The law, when passed, will also penalize anyone discovered encouraging residents to become professional street beggars, saying, through this, it will become an offense to give beggars alms.
At a plenary on Tuesday presided by the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, the Lawmakers described street begging as a menace that was already taking over the state.
The speaker who corroborated the stand of his colleagues noted that criminal elements have taken over the streets, disguising as beggars, to attack Lagosians.
Reacting to the motion moved by Abiodun Orekoya and some of his colleagues, Obasa noted how previous administrations in the state made efforts to curb street begging, but that the challenge had not abated.
According to the Speaker, “When we address the source, then we can curb it. When you go on the road, you find children between the ages of five and six begging. It means there are established groups of people benefitting from this. They warehouse and provide for them.”
“Beyond the child rights law, we should come up with another law that speaks to begging and giving. We must come up with genuine laws and institutions that handle begging.” He added
The Speaker said the proposed law should aim to establish a center where individuals who wish to give alms can do so, while the center would ensure that the alms reach those in need.
According to him, the law will create a fund to be managed by people with integrity so that if you are in need, you will go there.
He said while this would help people fulfill their religious beliefs about almsgiving, it would also help curb street begging, reduce crime on the road, and promote greater responsibility among residents.
The Speaker said the smart city goal of the state cannot be achieved when beggars adorn the roads, inhibiting free movement and engaging in crime which include drug peddling and stealing from motorists.
Obasa also urged local government chairmen to come up with ideas to manage street trading rather than thinking of outrightly chasing traders off the streets.
“Street trading happens across the world. It is for our council chairmen to come up with ideas to better manage the activities of traders in their domains.” He said