Lagos Didnt Deport Beggars, Only Reunited Them With Their Families
AFTER 67 citizens were last week allegedly deported from Lagos and deposited at the Upper Iweka Bridge, Onitsha, Anambra State, the Lagos State government has defended the practice of expelling beggars and destitute rescued from the streets back to their states of origin.
In a chat with The Guardian, the Special Adviser to the Lagos Stats Governor on Youths and Social Development, Dr. Enitan Dolapo Badru, said at least, 1,708 beggars and destitute had been expelled from Lagos to their various states and countries since January, in Government’s bid to rid the streets of beggars and the mentally-challenged.
Badru noted that normal international standard requires the state to reunite them with their families. "The end result is to reunite them back with their families. We are not repatriating them out of Lagos, we are reuniting them with their families because once we rescue them, we cannot as a government, hold a child under the age of 18 in custody without parental or guardian’s consent. We found out that a lot of children on the streets of Lagos come from outside the state thinking that Lagos is an Eldorado. It is unfortunate that many of them are underage and very vulnerable because they can be introduced to so many vices.
“When we rescue them, we try as much as possible to carry out social investigation to know where they actually come from and why they absconded in the first place. And this takes time, because most of them don’t usually tell the truth since they don’t want to go back home. Once we have them in our custody, we must take a Court Order to keep them since the law provides for that and we cannot keep them indefinitely, so we still need to send them back to their parents. And our practice is to get in touch with the social welfare services of their respective states, which would in turn get in touch with the families,” he said.
Badru added that in the last one year, a total number of 3,114 beggars/ destitute/ mentally-challenged have been rescued in day and night operations and 2,695 were taken to the Rehabilitation and Training Centre, Owutu, Ikorodu, where the state government has made provisions for facilities to help in turning their lives around, while the mentally-unstab le are given medical attention.
One of the destitute, Mr. Osondu Mbuto, from Ohaozara in Ebonyi State and a petty trader in Lagos, had told journalists that they were dumped at about 3.00am on Wednesday morning at Upper Iweka after being detained in Ikorodu, Lagos, for over six months for alleged wandering and other minor offences by the Lagos State Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) officials.
They were brought to Onitsha in four buses, escorted by Anti-Riot Policemen. Mbuto said he was arrested by the KAI officials while going to his shop on December 18, 2012.