For the second time in the past month, thousands of beggars yesterday besieged the entrance to the Lagos State Assembly and the Governor’s Office in Alausa to protest “undue harassment and imprisonment by state government officials”.
The beggars, who arrived in more than 10 buses and seven tricycles, barricaded the entrance to the Assembly and demanded that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu approach them.
They said they would sleep on the road if the governor did not show up.
Despite requests from government officials saying the governor was not around, the beggars refused to leave, promising to remain there until they were approached by the governor.
The protesters carried signs, some of which said: ‘Enough, stop the persecution of people with disabilities”, save the riverbank, forced conviction, we demand justice “. If you don’t want to see us begging on the streets, then give us skills and empowerment” ‘Seeing beggars on all our streets and roads is the failure of the system’ and ‘We are tired of running without legs or eyes, give us skills and empowerment ‘.
The beggars shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ intermittently and challenged the police to touch them.
Beggar spokesman and Coordinator of Initiatives for Physically Challenged Empowerment (PCEI), Mohammed Zanna, said in 2017 that he protested in Alausa and refused to leave, “but many of us were arrested and taken to Majidun”, which he described as prison. where they were mistreated by government officials.
Zanna said that some of the beggars bought tricycles to do business, “but now that the government has put a ban on them, their situation has worsened.”
He said that on February 7, his organization came with 500 beggars for a peaceful protest in order to draw the governor’s attention to his situation.
“Our situation was made worse by the ban on tricycles (Keke Marwa).
We cannot get on buses because we cannot fight with the able people to gain access to buses. We are seeking an audience with Governor Sanwo-Olu. Let them come and tell us what they want to do with us. We need skills and training. We are tired of staying at home. We are demanding to be trained”, said Zanna.
He added: “We don’t want to beg on the streets. We use our own ingenuity and resources to provide alternative, more dignified, safe and productive livelihoods for society. However, this government is willing to destroy everything we have built for ourselves and push us back to poverty.
“We are ready to work with the government to find viable alternatives through appropriate Keke regulation, special permits for people living with disabilities (PLWD) to use Keke to transport our members, or real and immediate support for alternative livelihoods through training and skills training. PLWD support to start new businesses “.
So far, no legislator or government official had met with the protesters.