by Isi Esene
Beggars in Lagos State yesterday expressed their displeasure over the unfair treatment which they are subjected to by the government. The beggars – came in their hundreds, carrying placards, singing solidarity songs – temporarily ‘occupied’ the Lagos State secretariat and the House of Assembly to make their grievances known to the state government.
Mr. Zakariwa Hassan, one of the beggars, who led the protest complained about undue harassment by the government and expressed the beggars’ opposition to the new Lagos State traffic law which seeks to curb their activities on the streets of the metropolis.
He said many of their members have been caught and detained in less than humane conditions at the Lagos State Rehabilitation Centre, Majidun in Ikorodu and accused the authorities of detaining them in congested cells in less than ideal conditions.
He narrated his detention experience and how his family was forced to pay N45,500 on his behalf to a Zenith Bank account purportedly belonging to the Lagos State Government before he was released.
“They call it centre for rehabilitation but it is a prison yard. About 63 to 65 people are put in one room. We are telling the government to take us as human beings and they should consider our problem. We need good treatment.
“First, our movement within Lagos State metropolis has been restricted such that anyone caught roaming on the road will be taken to Majidun prison. At the prison, all our belongings will be seized from us and also maltreated by the management.
“The condition of the prison is appalling and so devastating that it causes more harm to our health. There are no religious freedom, privacy and convenience as the case may be.”
Major Tunde Panox (rtd.), the special adviser on Security to Governor Babatunde Fashola, who spoke to the beggars promised to convey their grievances to the state governor and assured them that their allegations would be properly looked into.
“I assure you that these allegations would be tabled before the governor later today. As at now, the governor could not come and meet you because the State Executive Council meeting is on and it won’t end until in the evening,” he said.
If only wishes were horses…