Despite various efforts by the Kano state government to discourage street begging, the trend of soliciting alms is still waxing in the state metropolis, Kano Chronicle, observed.
It would be recalled that the immediate past administration of Dr Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso banned street begging and introduced a monthly stipend of N5, 000 for beggars in the state.
However, it was observed that the beggars, including men, women and children mostly from rural areas, have defied the ban order and turned to streets, major traffic junctions, roundabouts and other strategic places within the state metropolis soliciting for money or food.
Our reporters, who went round the city, observed that most of the traffic junctions in the metropolis have been converted into a workshop of a sort by the beggars as well as persons with various forms of disability.
Kano Chronicle observed that most of the beggars had, in different occasions, been arrested and released by Hisbah operatives but that did not deter them from begging.
Some of the beggars who spoke to our reporters said they were forced into begging owing to lack of profitable business to sustain themselves and their families.
Malama Hauwa’u Gezawa Lungun Dan Zaki, told our reporters said she had been arrested for more than 20 times but had to return to begging because she had nobody to take care of her.
She said both her husband and children had died and was left with no option than to embark on begging at least to feed herself.
“I was arrested by Hisbah operatives for almost 20 times, but any time they released me, I return to begging because I don’t have any alternative. I have nobody that can take care of me. How do you expect me to sit at home? What am I going to eat?
“Usually after they arrest us they take us to their office in Sharada and dump us till late evening, they would then release us without collecting a single kobo from anyone,” she said.
Malama Hauwa’u added that she started begging about three years ago after the demise of her husband and nephew.
Another beggar, who simply identified herself as Fatsima Abdullahi, said she was one of the numerous Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who came to Kano from Borno state as a result of Boko Haram insurgency.
A mother of five, Fatsima said she was separated from her husband when the insurgents invaded their village, Tummin Gini in Abadan Local Government of Borno state, saying “after some years without knowing his whereabouts, I went to his family to sucure G aiba (divorce by proxy) so as to be able to marry another man.
“Another man from Doro, who was a victim of the insurgency, married me and after conceiving for him, he ran away and up till now, I don’t know his whereabouts. I was arrested three times by Hisbah operatives, and they released me when I narrated my story to them. One of my sons is suffering from hernia, I am begging for help to treat him.”
Hadiza Rimin Kebe said she started begging when her husband dumped her with six children and ran away, saying, “he came from Niger Republic, I had been to his hometown for a number of times but he was nowhere to be found. Even his relatives were looking for him.
“I resorted to street begging when I realized that no one was willing to take care of me and my children. Then a woman philanthropist known as Hajiya Ja’e came and offered to assist us if we promise to stop begging, which we agreed. Our names were taken and our passport photographs were collected but up till this moment, we did not hear from her again. Our representative went there to find out if there is any development but he couldn’t find her.
“We live here in constant fear of being arrested. We have concern about education of our children. If government can assist us with some capital to start business, we will stay at home and take care of our children,” she said.
Aisha Umar was from Falgore and her husband died and left her with eight children. She married another man but he could not take care of the children.
She said, “I am aware that street begging was banned here in Kano. I was arrested about three times but I cannot stop begging because I am doing it out of necessity. We lived for about four years with my children after the death of my husband. I became so indebted that my relatives had to contribute some amount to settle part of my debt. So I left for Kano to be able to feed my children.”
Hamisu Abubakar, who was apparently crippled by poliomyelitis, lives in Tudun Murtala area of Kano. He said he lost his parents and he was married with four children.
“I was arrested once by Hisbah officials. I and my friends travelled to Lagos where we continued with our begging as we don’t have any other means of survival. Later we retuned to Kano because we cannot cope with the life in Lagos state,” he said
Another male beggar, Hussaini Zahiru, said during the Kwankwaso’s administration, street beggars, especially those living with disability were asked to stop begging and the state government promised some assistance. But because the intervention was not properly channeled, only few of them were able to get it.
“Some sewing machines and embroidery machines were procured for distribution to empower the physically challenged persons. But they disappeared one by one without reaching the hands of the intended beneficiaries.
“We were asked to fill some forms that government was willing to assist people living with disability with some capital to start business. We had been to almost eleven places in the process. But only a few were given.
“I was arrested a number of times and I usually told the officials making the arrest point blank that, when they release me I would return to begging because they did not give me any alternative.”
“I am appealing to government that if they really want to assist us, they should do it through our associations and monitor the assistance to ensure its proper implementation,” he said.
Khadija is a 12year old girl who takes care of three of her siblings because they lost their parents. Their grandmother, an old woman, lives with them in Bela.
When contacted, the Director General of Hisbah board, Dr Abba Sa’idu Sufi, said a number of arrests were made and some of the arrested beggars were prosecuted in court, while others were deported to their states of origin.
“If we arrest them for the first time, we would counsel them and repatriate them to their hometowns. But any subsequent arrest, we would charge them to court and it is usually a three months imprisonment with an option of N10, 000 fine,” he said.