Some beggars took to the streets of Lagos today February 25, to protest against continuous arrest by officials of the state government.
The beggars who stormed Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s office in 10 buses and seven tricycles, also barricaded the entrance to the State House of Assembly as they demanded for audience with the Lagos State Governor.
They held up placards which read; “Enough is enough, stop the persecution of people with disabilities,” “Save the waterfront, enforced conviction, we demand justice,”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.”
Mohammed Zanna, Spokesperson of the beggars and Coordinator of Physically Challenged Empowerment Initiatives (PCEI), recounted how some of them were arrested during a similar protest in 2017 and taken to Majidun, which he described as a prison. He alleged that they were ill-treated and manhandled by government officials, leading to death of some of their members.
He further stated that the recent ban on commercial motorcycle and tricycle which some of them have been able to purchase, has made business difficult for them as they now have to trek from bus stops to their destinations.
Zanna said; “We cannot enter buses now because we cannot fight and struggle. We are seeking audience with the governor. Let them come and 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.
“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 transportation of our members or real and immediate support for alternative livelihoods through skills training and support for PLWDs to start new businesses.”