The Anambra State government is currently battling its Lagos state counterpart for repatriating destitute people arrested on the streets of Lagos to their home state of Anambra.
Anambra state Governor, Peter Obi, has indeed fired a strongly worded letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, describing the relocation of destitute people from his state as “illegal, unconstitutional, and a blatant violation of the human rights” of the “deportees”.
But checks by PREMIUM TIMES indicate that the Anambra state government had in the past arrested beggars on the streets of Awka and swiftly repatriated them to their home states of Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom.
Below are two reports of the arrests and “deportation” as captured by two Nigerian newspapers at the time.
Anambra Orders Arrest Of Child Beggars
The Anambra state government has issued a warning to all street beggars, especially children used by their parents to beg for alms, to vacate the streets or be arrested.
29 of such women who displayed their children as strategy for getting alms have already been arrested in Awka and Onitsha, and repatriated to their home states; Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom states.
The state commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Dr. Ego Cordelia Uzoezie, disclosed Friday in Awka when a middle-aged woman was arrested for begging with nine children at various points in Awka.
Uzoezie said her attention was drawn to the spectacle when one of the children who begged at the Unizik junction, Awka, six-year-old Goodnews Sunday, was hit in the jaw by an Okada rider, while he begged.
Uzoezie decried the attitude of some parents who used their children to beg for alms, and warned that after 72 hours any beggar seen in the state would be arrested by the law enforcement agents and the special task force of the ministry of women affairs and social development.
Anambra Govt Orders The Arrest Of Beggars With Children, 29 Arrested So Far
CHAMPION, DEC 4, 2011
By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, Awka
In its determined efforts to rid the state environment of beggars daily increasing in their numbers, the Anambra state government has issued an ultimatum to all the street beggars especially those using children to beg in Anambra state to vacate the streets or face arrest within 72 hours.
Meanwhile over 29 beggars with children have been arrested in Awka and Onitsha , warned and repatriated back to their various states of origin mostly Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom states to mention but a few.
Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development , Dr Ego Cordelia Uzoezie disclosed Friday in Awka when a middle aged woman was arrested begging with 9 children at various points in Awka.
The attention of Dr Uzoezie was drawn to the beggar with children when one of the kids begging at Unizik junction Awka , 6 years old Goodnews Sunday was hit while begging by an Okada operator injuring her jaw.
She was later taken to Beacon Hospital Awka after two hospitals turned her down when good Samaritans rushed her to hospital for first aid. Reasons for her rejection are yet to be ascertained as at press time.
Uzoezie decried the attitude of some parents who indulge in using children to beg, warning that after 72 hours any beggar seen in the state would be arrested by the law enforcement agents and the special task force of the ministry of women affairs and social development.
The accident victim Goodnews said she came from Akwa-Ibom Oron in Akwa-Ibom state and is staying with her mother at Isu-Aniocha but her twelve years old Sister , Blessing Sunday not only concurred the story of her sister but admitted that her mother actually sent them to go for the begging and that they used to be students of Anointed Nursery/Primary school Awada Obosi until they were pushed into begging following taunts on their mother who use to hawk curry and garri at Onitsha by one Happiness from Calabar.
Blessing further informed that the accident victim is a twin and that their parents now do nothing but to depend on what they were able to get from the begging. She said they would use it to pay for their school fees and house rent and equally build a house. She however contradicted herself when she later said she and her sister were being enslaved by one, Happiness who was already repatriated but came back to Anambra.
The other woman with 5 children, Mrs Nwakaego Eze from Amafor Uli, in Ihiala local government of Anambra state married to Arochukwu in Abia state blamed her begging now on week days to the dislocation of her husband and others from the Army barracks Onitsha as their begging before now was only on weekends.
She said although they have a house at No 2 Igbamaeze Street Awada Obosi , she equally rented a house at Isu-Aniocha to enable them sleep after begging in Awka. She said her children were not begging with her before as they were students of Basic Foundation but since after the Army Barracks dislocation they have joined her in begging, She further said they are now going to Anointed Nursery/Primary School Awada Obosi. She promised not to use the children for begging again, if allowed to walk home free.
But the Director Child Development , Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development , Mr Emeka Ejide warned the beggars to leave their children alone and can beg if they choose to as the interest of the ministry and Anambra state government are on the children. He said the Ministry has repatriated more than 29 women begging with children to their various states and would not hesitate to deal with parents who still engage in such acts describing them as products of Mammy market Onitsha where anything goes before its closure.
One of the good Samaritans who rushed the victim to hospital Mrs Stella Samuel incidentally an indigene of Akawa Ibom wondered why people from Akwa Ibom state must still be begging in Anambra state when the Governor of Akwa Ibom, Governor Godswill Akpabio had declared free education for children of the state. She said the accident happened in front of her shop and she had to run around to save the life of the girl but was shocked that no hospital wanted to accept her until later when the Ministry took custody of her and others.
But the President General of Akwa-Ibom Central Union, Anambra state , Sir Chris Ekanem who not only admitted that the victim and some of the beggars came from Akwa-Ibom but requested for authority for them to repatriate them home since their Governor Akpabio has given free education to people like them.
He appealed that those who brought them to Anambra only to subject them to begging should be punished adding that they had reported to the police the incident. He revealed that the children told him in their dialect that they were many in the state from the same Akwa Ibom doing the same business of begging in Anambra state.