Amid growing hardship, ‘corporate beggars’ flood Abuja streets

Abuja

On a recent morning, a well-dressed woman walked into an eatery behind Unique Garden, Wuse Zone 2 in Abuja, and sat uninvited next to two men waiting for meals.

Wearing a smile, the woman, in her 20s, narrated how she arrived the federal capital for a job interview, and how the process had been extended, leaving her with the unexpected burden of feeding and accommodation in a city she knew no one.

“I’ve been sleeping in the church since my arrival, and I don’t even have enough transport fare to take me back to Lagos after the interview tomorrow,” the woman lamented, according to an attendant at the eatery, who gave her name as Cecilia.

As she spoke, one of the men handed out some four to five N500 bills, and advised her to sort herself out.

Cecilia said the appeal was a ruse – she had seen the lady before soliciting alms with the same tale.

“She comes here from time to time collecting money from people with this same story,” she said.

Cecilia said the woman was a “corporate beggar”, an increasingly popular term used in describing well-looking men and women who flood the Nigerian capital in bespoke outfits daily in search of handouts, under make-believe narratives.

Street begging is rampant in Nigeria, and often involves visibly disadvantaged people, especially children, who line major roads to ask for offerings.

But “corporate begging” is different. Its performers are mostly young people skilled at delivering pity-provoking narratives, and deft at evading law enforcement agents.

With a record high rate of unemployment, and an economic recession, more young people are turning to the scheme.

Aminu Mohammed, an Abuja resident, recounted how he was accosted by an well-dressed man at Wuse Market one evening with a story of how he forgot his wallet at the office as he hastened to leave, and how he could not retrieve it as the office would have been locked.

“Assessing his dressing and composure, I believed his story and gave him money, only for me to run into the same man weeks later at Jabi Park telling the same tale to another unsuspecting person,” Mr. Mohammed said.

In Abuja, “corporate beggars” are mostly common around Wuse market, Berger, Area 1, Nyanya, Lugbe, Kubwa, Maitama, Banex Plaza, AYA roundabout, and all major bus stops.

Residents say a common line is claiming to be short of transport fare to get to the next point for a job or business.

Smashed syndicate

In 2016, the Special Task Team on Abuja Environmental Protection broke a syndicate of suspected suppliers of beggars to strategic locations in Abuja.

The leader of the group, Baba Gwarma, from Kaduna State, was based in Karma-Jiji, a suburb of Abuja, where he sheltered a band of beggars who forayed into the city centre daily to earn money.

Mr. Gwarma was arrested more than 50 times, the chairman of the FCT Special Task Team, Abdullahi Monjel, said at the time, according to ThisDay.

Felisha Nwaogwu, the director of the Social Welfare Department in Abuja, told PREMIUM TIMES such beggars can be dangerous and have devised means of eluding security operatives.

“They can be very dangerous; our staffs have been previously attacked. Sometimes, when they are being taken to Bwari, the rehabilitation centre, they alert their cartel who now lay ambush for our staffs.

“There has been an occasion when we were repatriating some of them to Kaduna, it came to a place where they started chanting in Islam that they are in danger, making passersby think they were kidnapped but as God would have it we managed to survive that day,” Mrs. Nwaogwu said.

She said one of the tricks used by “corporate beggars” is taking advantage of health-challenged persons with ailments like elephantiasis or cancer, and taking them to the streets for alms-seeking.

One case that stood out, Mr. Nwaogwu said, involved a child named Blessing.

Blessing had an accident injury on the leg and was taken away from her poor parents by people who promised to help give her proper medical attention. She was rather taken to Abuja and wheeled along busy roads in search of alms.

Mrs. Nwaogwu said when they were arrested, more than N30, 000 was found on Blessing.

“That’s the money she makes for these people on a daily basis,” she said.

In another case, Mrs. Nwaogwu said “a woman used a perfect costume that makes one of her breasts appear as if she had breast cancer. When she was arrested and her costume was pulled out, she had neat and perfect breasts.”

She said her department does not make arrests, as that is done by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB, and the police.

“We only rehabilitate, counsel and repatriate,” she said.

At the government rehabilitation centre is in Bwari, Abuja, those arrested are trained in leather works, welding, clothing, embroidery and ICT, after which they are given small capital to set up businesses, Mrs. Nwaogwu said.


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  • amazing2012

    …it is not economic hardship, but simply laziness and pride ! Such people choice an easy way of making money without sweat.

    • No-Comment

      “There is a cry in the air that Nigerians are hungry and we hear them loud and clear. There are
      also unbelievable stories about people taking their children as human collateral for food with no
      intentions to pick them up. This situation in Nigeria today was going to happen; whether it is
      this administration or another. We headed this way a long time ago.

      In 1986, we were forced to devalue and deregulate. We were forced to open our doors to
      importation. We began devaluing the Naira. We have done it steadily for 30 years. We are
      now N400 to one dollar and we are told to continue devaluing; that devaluation will bring
      wonders. I don’t believe it. I hope we don’t hit N1,000 to $1 someday because the
      demand for dollars is $2.5bn a week and I have this from high authorities within
      the system.”

      ………………Chief Audu Ogbeh

      (Minister for Agriculture)

      [August 10th, 2016]

      • amazing2012

        I hope the dollar will reach N2,000
        It will make us:
        1. Concentrate on buying made in Nigeria goods and services.
        2. We can no longer employ expatriates to work for us but rather employ Nigerians
        3. We will be forced to start making made in Nigeria products.
        4. We will foreign companies to come down to Nigeria to establish factories.
        Dollar is not a measure of our live. The more the dollar is come down the more we become lazy to impor

    • emmanuel

      Hmmmm? If you nor see food eat for three day, you go know say nor be laziness. I knew a husband and wie who were civil servants in Osun state, relatives, friends and religious neighbour had tried their best and at some point, they became extremly stranded when Alfa did not pay salaries.
      What would they have done, stop work and go hawk ékö?

      • amazing2012

        …let them go and beg ! Civil servant or whatever will not stop them from going into another source of livelihood.
        People should stop complaining on problems that may never be solved. Instead think on how you will solve your problem. The problem is you not on others or others responsibilities to solve your problems !

  • hajiya tunsj soyemi(mai suya)

    This is change.
    ‘things must get worse before they get better’.
    That’s what the APC crowd said back then..till it became obvious things were going from worse to WORST!
    That’s why the likes of amazing2012, Kay soyemi, wahala, rommel, womanEnough, tundemess/tunsj/julius, etc have been on the RUN!
    Myopic slaves!
    Ahahahahahahaha!!!

    • Suleiman Alatise

      Even if your mess smell too much, it’s APC.

  • AryLoyds

    Buhari has turned Nigerians to beggars while enjoying him self in England.May God save Nigerians from Buhari.

    • ’70

      You never called the name of the looter(s) that threw Bihari’s govt into the state we find ourselves in – so sorry for you

      • AryLoyds

        When will you stop blaming the last gov for the present policies? Buhari has no idea of governance in this new age and should remain on vacation

        • dami

          Be careful what you wish for…if fayose is the one running against Buhari I’m happy to say that Buhari will win a second term.
          My point is that I see no credible opposition to Buhari right now…

          • AryLoyds

            Credibility does not make you a successful leader , just look at Buhari! If your polices are wrong credibility means nothing.

          • dami

            However no sucessful leader lacks credibility…

        • ’70

          Deep down in your heart of hearts, do you believe in what you just wrote?

    • Alex Uji

      @aryloyds:disqus

      NIGERIANS THEMSELVES DO NOT USUALLY THINK. THEY DON’T NEED PITY.
      THEY PREFER TO SMELL IN DIRT AND GRIME. SUCH PEOPLE NEVER PROGRESS.
      THEY HAD NO RATIONAL BASIS FOR EXPECTING ECONOMIC REFORMS FROM BUHARI.
      NIGERIANS PLACED AN IRRESPONSIBLE BET ON A MAN WITH LITTLE OR NO EDUCATION.
      LET THEM EAT DUST IN THIS THIRD CONSECUTIVE QUARTER OF ECONOMIC RECESSION.

  • Africa

    Corporate begging is as old as prostitution…Abuja attracts all sort of characters!

  • Mary

    THE GENERAL REPUBLIC CONCERNING; THE PURCHASE OF DANGOTE 3X CEMENT AT A PROMO PRICE OF 1000# PER BAG AND RICE (MAMA AFRICA, MAMA GOLD, ROYAL SATALLION) 10,000# PER BAG. COST OF TRANSPORTATION FOR CEMENT IS 150# PER BAG AND RICE IS 500# PER BAG. CONTACT THE HEAD OF SALES, PASTOR THOMAS AISEMOTA ON 07038534730. NOTE: COST OF TRANSPORTATION IS MADE BEFORE DELIVERY.

    • emmanuel

      ole

  • O.L Pius

    “I am not an alarmist but I must warn that Nigeria is a tragedy waiting to implode.
    For the avoidance of doubt, a tragedy is a dramatic or literary genre in which the
    main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a
    consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with
    unfavorable circumstances.

    I think, in all honesty, that Muhamadu Buhari personifies all the foregoing
    attributes of tragedy; he has derailed irredeemably and should resign. We
    have become so enamored with the phantom of “war on corruption” while
    everything in Nigeria has collapsed. Our economy, education, social cohesion,
    our institutions, and our security, have all collapsed at the altar of “war on corruption”.

    …………..Dr. Arthur Nwakwo

    (October 23, 2016)

    • S.B. Badru

      @aligarba:disqus

      Truth is a country without a single honest role model in public office today can not progress. A country without

      a single good thinker in public office today cannot move forward forever. Thieves occupy public office in Nigeria.

      A rule of thieves destroys a nation. Lies-telling is the opposite of integrity. Lies breed thieves all over Nigeria.

  • Excon

    @aryloyds:disqus

    When policies are wrong; with no chance of success at a theoretical level, economic failure ensues.

    Muhamadu Buhari got everything wrong since May 29th 2015 and caused this economic destruction.

    • Facts & Figures

      ª Smallest can of Baygon insecticide………………………………₦1,000
      ª Rent of three bedroom apartment…………………………₦450,000 per annum
      ª A 25kg bag of garri as staple diet…………………………….₦14,000 per bag
      ª Petrol for six hours of private electricity……………………….₦60,000 a month
      ª Cost of preparing soup for family of six………………………₦6,000 every two days
      ª Ceeway drinking water …………………………………………..₦500 per gallon
      ª School fees for a child in private school………………………₦2million per session.
      ª Cost of two (2) newspapers a day for information…………… ₦15,000 per month

    • Facts & Figures

      Facts and Figures:

      • Smallest can of Baygon insecticide…………………………₦1,000
      • Rent of three bedroom apartment…………………………₦450,000 per annum
      • A 25kg bag of garri as staple diet…………………………….₦14,000 per bag
      • Petrol for six hours of private electricity……………………….₦60,000 a month
      • Cost of preparing soup for family of six………………………₦6,000 every two days
      • Ceeway drinking water …………………………………………..₦500 per gallon
      • School fees for a child in private school………………………₦2million per session.
      • Cost of two (2) newspapers a day for information…………… ₦15,000 per month

      • The Revolutionaries

        @aryloyds:disqus

        The day Nigerians rise in fury
        and thrust their official thieves into bonfires, the international community
        will take notice, that at last, thinking human beings have evolved in Nigeria
        with a resolve to fulfil the laws against thefts they enacted for their country.
        But for so long as treasury thieves and criminals are free, rich and honored,
        Nigerians shall be treated by the rest of the world as the scum of the earth.

    • Mufu Ola

      Lazy thinking”! Begging whether “corporate” or other have always been in Nigeria.From time immemorial.So what’s new? There is too much low quality comments on this forum.

  • emmanuel

    Those people have swallowe pride to cry out if you would ask me. They are at least not kidnapping, robbing, cmiitting fraud, looting government treasury.
    Some may get jobs and quit while others would remain when the economy gets better.
    But it is a sign of bad economy.
    I congratulate those who would not stay at home, get depressed and commit suicide, but would rather seek help in an age long begging scheme.
    It is easier to cast aspersion on them if one did not fall on the bad side of the horrible times