• Women borrow kids to solicit for alms
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
BEGGING in the Centre of Excellence is as old as the city itself. There are beggars everywhere in Lagos but a new twist has recently been introduced.
In an attempt to survive in Lagos, many people have devised several means of obtaining money by trick from unsuspecting public. Women have not been left out and they have introduced new tactics, which include: strapping babies on their backs to arouse sympathy from passersby, telling lies that they are stranded with no means of transportation or faking an ailment among others.
But none is as cruel as displaying a set of twins and triplets under the scorching sun by these women, who seem not to have any milk of human kindness running through their veins. They are seen at major bus stops sandwiching themselves with the twins and triplets dressed in identical attires to attract patronage.
Sometimes, these ‘mothers’ go the extra mile of hiring babies for begging.
Last year, a Special Court at Alausa, Ikeja, sent a 20-year-old Shadia Nasiru to jail for begging with three hired children.
Also recently, officials of the Lagos State Task Force on Environment and Special Offences at Seme Border arrested another woman, Jemilat Oseni, for begging with five children that were not hers.
Another woman, names withheld, in the bid to join the money-spinning venture of begging with children, rented babies from a Daycare Centre at Igando and took them to a popular street in Agege, before she was caught in the act.
Begging with rented children is fast becoming a booming trade in Lagos, only a few of the mothers begging with children actually use their own babies; and they are everywhere – Oshodi, Obalende, CMS, Agege, Ojota, Ikotun, Mushin, Yaba, among others.
Investigations revealed that the rented babies are hired from some unscrupulous baby homes and day care centres and a child could sometimes be hired for as low as N1,000 per day, while in some cases, the amount made at the end of the day is shared between the beggar and the custodian of the babies on an already agreed sharing formula.
Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Youths and Social Development, Dr. Enitan Dolapo Badru, in a chat with The Guardian, said in line with the state government’s policy of ridding the streets of beggars and destitute, his office had consistently embarked on an aggressive raid of beggars, the mentally-deranged and destitute from the streets, highways and under the bridges.
In a related development, Lagos State government has vowed to bring perpetrators of child sexual abuse to book. It has also called for collective efforts from stakeholders in preventing cases of sexual abuse among children in the state.
This was the focus at a forum with selected stakeholders working with children in Lagos State on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse organised by the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Social Development, office of Youth and Social Development in collaboration with United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
Speaking at the programme last week, Badru said Lagos State, being a mega city and the commercial nerve of the country, continues to witness influx of people of different categories, attitudes and behaviours in search of greener pasture, which oftentimes are elusive, thus leading to social dislocation for many and increased social vices.
According to him, it is disheartening that abuse, neglect and exploitation of children is shamefully increasing every year, adding that domestic violence, divorce/separation has reached epidemic proportion.
“Teenage and extra-marital pregnancies remain pervasive due to the failings of the various social institutions, especially the family unit. What is more baffling is that infants are not also spared. We must, therefore, collectively act now to save the situation, as there is no greater responsibility than to show love, care and support to our children with all they need to grow and be nurtured into responsible adulthood,” he said.
Addressing the audience, which included school children, Rosemary Ogedengbe, Chief Executive Officer, Rapha Counseling Concepts, said any child could be abused and when a child is sexually intimidated, such is traumatised and has post trauma experience to battle with later in life.