Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly, on Tuesday, during plenary deliberated on the idea of a law to curb street begging across the state.
The law, if it comes into existence, will also penalise the encouragement of street begging by residents. In this way, it will be an offence to give alms to a street beggar.
The lawmakers said criminal elements disguised as beggars have taken over the streets in the state.
A statement on Tuesday said the Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, who described street begging as a menace taking over the state, agreed with the lawmakers at plenary that criminal elements had taken over the streets disguised as beggars.
Reacting to the motion brought by Abiodun Orekoya and some of his colleagues, Obasa noted how previous administrations in the state made efforts to curb street begging, but that the challenge had not abated.
He stressed the need for a law that would criminalise street begging and penalise individuals who give money to beggars on the roads.
“When we address the source, then we can curb it. When you go on the road, you find children within the ages of five and six begging. It means there are established groups of people benefitting from this. They warehouse and provide for them.”
Beyond the Child Rights Law, we should come up with another law that speaks to begging and giving. We must come up with genuine laws and institutions that handle begging.”The Speaker said the proposed law should aim to establish a centre where individuals who wish to give alms can do so, while the centre would ensure that the alms reach those in need.
“The law will create a fund to be managed by people with integrity so that if you are in need, you would go there,” he said.He said while this would help people fulfil their religious beliefs about almsgiving, it would also help curb street begging, reduce crime on the road and promote greater responsibility among residents.