“We Did Not Forcefully Send Them Packing, They Were Causing Nuisance In The State”- Special Adviser On Youths And Social Dev. To Fashola Opines.

The Special Adviser On Youths And Social Development To Governor Babatunde Fashola Of Lagos State, Dr. Dolapo Enitan Badru, In This Interview With Thisday Newspaper, Spoke On The Alleged Forceful Relocation Of 67 Igbo Indigenes To Onitsha By Lagos State Government. Excerpts;

But what is the mechanism of tracking children who are found in conflict with the law of the state?

We have our own way of tracking such children. Sometimes, we track them through petitions. Sometimes, we get them through complaints from members of the
public who saw them and reported to our office. When you passed through such children and saw them in the midst of touts in the motor park, you begin to wonder
what they are doing there. Some good individuals would call us and tell us they saw them at a particular park, while passing by.
Then, we would send our men to such places to investigate. They would go like ordinary person to the motor park, under bridges or hideout to conduct investigation. We look at the situation at that point. If it is a situation such a child can be rescued immediately,
we do that right there. If we cannot rescue him immediately, we go with security agents to rescue him and ensure that no person gets hurt in the process.

Is it in this context that Lagos State Government had to forcefully relocate about 67 destitute to Onitsha last week?

That is not true. We did not forcefully relocate any person to Onitsha; neither did we deport. We are not immigration; neither are we a country that we should
deport. What happened is that we actually traced their families one after the other. We went through the Department of Social Welfare of Anambra State. These are very young and vulnerable children. Some of them just jumped into bus and came to Lagos because their parents beat them.
We deal with Social Welfare Department of the sister states to trace the roots of those children. The law does not allow us to keep any child without parents’ knowledge. To keep the child, we have to go to the
family court to get an order for care and protection of that child. This is applicable to any child below 18 years.
We have different cases of children we have re-united to their families in different parts of the country. We have
done this in Ebonyi. We have done in Katsina. The case of Anambra is not the first. The proliferation of beggars is disturbing in the state. We have a report from the security agencies on the influx of
beggars to the state. We cannot pretend that this is not happening in our state. We have heard all sorts of things that these people are traders and that they cannot beg, it is a lie. Sometimes, they said it was the northerners that are beggars. No, it is a lie.
They are even committing more atrocities. These people will feign illness. They will feign that their scrotums are big. But when you remove what they wrap on their
scrotum, there is nothing there. What they do now is to feign illness to scare us so that they can be given money. When you do not want to give them money, they will come to you, especially when children are inside the
car. In the process, the children will start crying. Due to their harassment, you give them money so that they can go.
Aside, they went as far as looking for people with abnormal illness to beg on the streets and highways. They keep parading such people in the traffic and on the
roads so that they can scare innocent residents to give
them money. They were so many before. We got rid of
them. What we do is that we treat them. In fact, some of
them will go to their states to look for people with
special health cases and bring them to Lagos to beg on
the streets. Who knows whether such illness is contagious or not? Or do we want people to get infected with strange illness? We get these people, treat them as well and return them to where they came from. We cannot allow such things to continue happening on the streets of Lagos. Section 160 of Criminal Codes forbids begging on the streets of Lagos. It is a criminal offence to beg on the streets of Lagos whether people with
serious health cases or not.

What really happened in the case of Anambra State?

We wrote letters to Anambra State Government through
its Lagos Liaison Office. It is just Anambra we wrote a letter to. We wrote to Kano State. We wrote to Ondo State. We wrote to Jigawa State. We wrote to Katsina
State. Every state has its own file. In the same way, we wrote to Anambra that we got some destitute on the
streets that claimed to be indigenes of your state. We asked the Anambra State Government to send people
from their Liaison Office to come and interview the
destitute to ascertain if they are actually from Anambra
so that we know who is lying and who is not. Some will
come. Some will ignore us. If you go to our rehabilitation
facility in Majidun, we have more than 1,500 destitute
there. The number keeps going up. We keep and feed
three times daily. In a place designed for 1,200 people,
there are about 2,000 there. That is a recipe for chaos.
When we treat them, we try to teach them a trade
before we relocate them to their states. But they prefer
to go back to the street and beg.
Did the Anambra State Government respond to your
letter?
Anambra State Government wrote us back. The state
government asked us to detail the status of those under
our care and protection local government by local
government. We did it as directed and then wrote the
state government back, indicating the status of destitute
who claimed to be from Anambra. Since April we have
done that, there is no response from the state. We also
put through series of phone calls to them, there was no
response. We then decided we could not continue to
keep these people under our care and protection. We
thus took them to their place so that their state
government can find a way to re-unite them with their
parents.
We did not deport any person. There is nothing like
deportation. We are not immigration. We cannot deport
within Nigeria. We wrote and wrote them; they never
replied us. Katsina came and took their people away.
Kano came and carried their people. Oyo came and carried their people. Imo too came and carried their people. Even Akwa Ibom sent a letter that some people lay claim to Lagos. We took them in. Likewise, another state sent a letter to us. We took them. So, why are they complaining? It is a bias. It is not extra ordinary.

As a result of the state decision, some individuals and groups now threaten legal action. What can you say about this and how do you prevent children and destitute
from flooding the state?

On the legal action, well, let us see what will happen at the end. But they are only bringing sentiment and ethnicity into this issue. There is no need to bring into ethnicity into what happened. Lagos is open to every citizens of Nigeria; we can’t prevent people from coming into the state. When you are doing your legitimate job, does Lagos State come and arrest you in your workplace? When you are transacting your business, will Lagos State come and rescue there? No. It is these people who are committing crimes that we arrest and destitute who are begging on the street. We are not against any person. We cannot prevent people from coming to Lagos. These are the categories of people that we will often arrest and rescue.

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