BODE OLAGOKE examines the effectiveness of the ban on hawkers and destitute in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)
The order of the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Muhammed, banning hawkers and destitute in Abuja seems not to be effective as these categories of people have returned to the streets to ply their trade.
Even prostitutes and okada riders have taken advantage of the lull in the enforcement of the law banning street hawking, trading, begging, prostitution and the use of motorcycles for commercial transportation in the city centre to return to the streets.
Investigations have shown that major roads and business centres as well as districts, markets and plazas in the capital now harbour several beggars and hawkers of pure water, soft drinks, fura da nono, okpa, meat pie, egg-rolls and gala which are favourites of civil servants rushing to and from their offices.
Major hotels, night clubs, dark street corners, drinking joints, parks and gardens are also teeming with ‘girls of easy virtue’ who come to the city from various parts of the country to catch fun and make quick money from generous patrons.
A random survey of the city in the day and at night showed that officials of the task forces or agencies set-up by the Minister to enforce the ban look the other way while these people conduct their businesses without the fear being arrested or molested, or being put in a tight corner to pay the N20, 000 fine stipulated for offenders.
When Blueprint visited area I, Garki, Wuse, Bannex, Begger, Sky Memorial, Jabi, Utako, Nicon Junction and Airport Junction, many hawkers were seen carrying out their businesses without restriction.
One of the hawkers at Wuse area told our reporter in a chat that the ban cannot be effective because “the Task force officials set up by the government are out to make money and once they are settled they will release you to continue your business.”
It was also gathered that the destitute house built by the FCDA at Yangoji in Kwali Area Council has been deserted due to neglect of the inmates by the government.
Residents of the territory who spoke to our reporter on the matter said the people who were affected by the ban are human beings who have the constitutional right of survival by any means necessary, since the government has refused to provide for them.
Chief Phillip Okeke, a businessman said: “There is gross violation of human rights of many people in this country.
We signed the United Nation’s Charter on Human Rights but we do not obey them. How do we expect people especially the very poor to survive without government support? Families are moving to the streets with the hope that good spirited people will have mercy on them and provide them money to feed.”
He called on the federal government to emulate other countries catering for the infirm, old people and abandoned children who find it difficult to feed.
Alhaji Adamu Yunusa Suleja out rightly condemned the ban on beggars and okada riders in the city, saying that religiously and even culturally those who do not have should meet their brothers at home or on the streets for assistance.
He asked rhetorically that why didn’t the Minister ban ‘professional and executive’ beggars who move about in cozy dresses to beg for alms from street to street and district to district.
Blueprint observed that most of these hawkers are women and children without basic educational background. Although some of them were said to have certificates but resort to hawking as a means of survival