The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has advised the Lagos State legislature against criminalizing begging in the state until poverty is eradicated from Lagos.
HURIWA in a statement by its national Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, stated that mass poverty was inflicted on the masses due to political corruption, bad governance, and theft by state officials.
Onwubiko insists that mass poverty which is the root cause of begging should be tackled ‘’rather than chasing shadows and engaging in semantic gymnastics targeted at wiping off the poor from Nigeria through criminal means that offend fundamental human rights provisions guaranteed in chapter 4 of the Nigerian constitution.’’
He reminded the Lagos House of Assembly that section 7 of the constitution provides power for a state’s House of Assembly to make laws for peace, order and good government.
‘’Making a law to forcefully stop indigent citizens from begging would be tantamount to inflicting social conflict and unleashing disorder on a large scale given that over 133 million households are multidimensionally poor.’’
The group urged the Lagos State Government partner with corporate bodies and charitable organizations to establish massive skills acquisition centres where genuine poor and unskilled citizens can learn life-saving skills for economic empowerment.
‘’Those who opt for begging rather than accepting economic empowerment can then be deemed undesirable elements constituting social nuisance on streets before being legitimately expelled from them.’’
The right group recalled how previous administrations had made efforts to curb street begging but failed; hence it’s essential first to address its source before curbing it.
HURIWA also described any law aimed at penalizing giving money directly or indirectly as fascist, undemocratic unconstitutional dehumanizing legislation which must not be allowed because survival becomes only possible when fit while might become right if this policy sails through.