A 45-year old cripple, Sunday Erim Udoyo and 19 others have been convicted by the Special Offences Court in Alausa for begging on the streets of Lagos, southwest Nigeria, and sent to jail.
The Lagos State Government declared war against begging and jailed over 120 beggars last year.
On Monday, the cripple and six others were convicted and sentenced accordingly by the court. Because of his predicament and being a hernia patient, Udoyo was convicted and remanded at the Lagos State Rehabilitation Centre, Majidun, where he will spend two years.
The crippled man was said to have been brought to Lagos by his relation, Sunday Etim, 26, from Cross River State, to beg so that they could raise fund to carry out hernia operation. But two of them were arrested while begging.
Etim got two years imprisonment without the option of fine along with Wasiu Abass, 24, while Udoyo was remanded at Majidun after they pleaded guilty to the charge against them.
The charge against the three beggars read: “that you, the above named defendants on 13th day of July 2013 by 9:00 a.m. along Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja, placed yourselves on the road for gathering of alms and committed an offence punishable under section 166(2) of the Criminal law 2011.”
Three others, two sisters and male beggars were also arraigned same day and sentenced to one year imprisonment without the option of fine after they pleaded guilty. They are Peace Ezugwu, 24; Mercy Ezugwu, 26, and Dotun Owokiigbe, 20.
The charge against them read: “that you, the above named defendants on 12th day of July, 2013 by 4.50 p.m. at Abiola Garden, Ojota, placed yourselves on the road, for gathering of alms and committed an offence punishable under section 166 (2) Criminal law 2012.
They were also accused of conducting themselves in a manner likely to cause breach of public peace and collection of illegal dues from persons and committed an offence punishable under section 2 of the Illegal Collection of Dues in Public Place Law of Lagos State 2013.
The beggars were further accused of conducting themselves as disorderly people without visible means of livelihood and committed an offence contrary to section 166 (1) (a) Criminal law of Lagos State 2011 and punishable under section 166 (2) of the same law.
All the beggars were arrested and arraigned in court by officials of the Lagos State Office of Youth and Social Department.
Between May and early July 2013, thirteen other beggars were jailed, while 12 others were sentenced to community service plus payment of fine ranging from N5,000 to N30,000.
In one of the sentences, eight of the beggars will serve one month imprisonment with the option of N5,000 fine each, while two others were sentenced to three months imprisonment or pay a fine of N25,000 each.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Youth and Social Development, Dr. Dolapo Badru, frowned at begging on Lagos streets as it constituted offence.
He warned Lagosians not to give alms to beggars as the beggars and the givers were culpable. Governor Babatunde Fashola had also vowed to stamp out begging in the state, saying beggars constituted nuisance to the public and must be driven away from the streets.