Five infants of about 14-month-old have been rescued at Iyana-Ipaja roundabout, Lagos from beggars who used them to solicit alms. Many of the kids were engaged directly for begging by their biological mothers while others were ‘rented’.
The beggars usually move from one location to the other, calling on passers-by and motorists they come across to assist them, using babies or kids in their hands to elicit sympathy. One of the women, who was arrested with two identical twins, Mrs. Abosede Ayuba, claimed that she lost her husband when she gave birth to the twins.
She said: “I used to work before but I stopped working when I did not have strength to work. As I speak, I don’t have a cup of ‘Gaari’ at home to give them.”
On her part, Shakira Olatunde, 35, claimed her husband absconded when she gave birth to her child.
She said: “I was selling rice and beans but when Customs seized my goods I became helpless. When I was selling sachet water, the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) officials arrested me."
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, said the women and their infants were apprehended during routine rescue operations by the ministry.
Muri-Okunola, who reaffirmed government’s commitment to enforce the Child Right Law, said one of the women was caught without her children as they escaped arrest on sighting the rescue team.
He said: “It is very sad that most of the beggars are not the biological parents of the children they use for begging.
It is our responsibility as government to protect the dignity of children being used as tools for begging which is a punishable offence.”
He added that government would not relent in dealing with beggars as some of the beggars were known for aiding and abetting criminal acts such as kidnapping and robbery among others.
This, Muri-Okunola said, would help government in its means of protecting and securing the lives and property of the citizenry as well as protect the dignity of the child.
By Muritala Ayinla (New Telegraph)