Beggars across Lagos State on Wednesday stormed the office of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the state House of Assembly over alleged harassment.
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The beggars, reported to have arrived Alausa with more than 10 buses and seven tricycles, blocked the entrance to the assembly and demanded audience with Sanwo-Olu over arrest of some of their members by state officials.
The men and women carried placards with different inscriptions, including, ‘Enough is enough, stop the persecution of people with disabilities,’ ‘If you don’t want to see us begging on the streets, give us skills and empowerment,’ ‘Seeing beggars all over 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.’
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Mohammed Zanna, Coordinator, Physically Challenged Empowerment Initiatives, said some of their members were arrested in 2017 and locked away in some place at Majidun. He claimed some of them had died of hunger and the poor living conditions.
He said tricycles bought by some of them to make a living had been banned by the government leaving them with no option than begging.
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“We cannot enter buses because we cannot fight and struggle. We are seeking audience with the governor. Let him tell us what they want to do with us. We need skills and empowerment. We are tired of sitting at home. We are demanding to be skilled.
“We do not want to beg on the streets. We have used our own ingenuity and resources to provide alternative livelihoods for ourselves that are more dignified, safer and productive to society.
“Yet, in the blink of an eye, this government is willing to destroy all we have built for ourselves and push us back into poverty and life without basic human dignity.
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“We are ready to work with government to find workable alternatives through appropriate regulation of keke, special permits for people living with disabilities to use our keke for the transportation of our members or real and immediate support for alternative livelihoods through skills training and support for us to start new businesses,” he said.