People in Arepo, Ogun State, have cried out over the influx of child beggars in their community, saying they are fond of harassing them in their desperate bid to beg for alms.
The influx of child beggars around the Arepo Bridge, in the Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, has triggered the residents to raise alarm over security threats they are experiencing.
Lamenting the insecurity threats posed at them by the beggars, the residents said both children and their family members usually beg for alms, adding that they all practically make a living on road sides of the area.
When a journalist visited the community, she observed that the beggars include children, adults and persons with disabilities, some of whom had been living in shanties created around and beneath the bridge for over 10 years.
The beggars, most of whom reportedly migrated from Jigawa, Katsina, Nasarawa, Kwara and Kano states due to insurgency, poverty and a search for better means of livelihood, were seen cooking and eating in their shade.
Revealing that the government is in the know about the influx of beggars in the community, Ogunsola Olayiwola, a member of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), noted that they’ve become so comfortable that they gets married under the Arepo Bridge.
“The beggars have been here for a long time; we try to warn them to appear clean to look pleasant for almsgiving, but they are deviant. I drove them away from a point beneath the bridge because they made it dirty.
“Officials of the Ministry of Environment came last year to observe the place and gave them a notice to clean the place where they live or it will be demolished, but they are not obeying. If the government can drive them away, the place will look better.
“We installed halogen lights for security so that anyone in danger can be rescued as we have observed that some of the beggars commit atrocities, including robbery.
“I want the government to take the beggars to a virgin land in Kara where they can get shelter,” Olayiwola added.
Corroborating the OPC member’s claims, Sherifah Tobiloye, a businesswoman, stated that the child beggars are fond of harassing people in their desperate bid to beg for alms.