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NOA, CAN seek law to prohibit use of chronically ill as beggars

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The National Orientation Agency (NOA), the Catholic Church and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) are to press for a legislation to ban the use of chronically ill persons as street beggars in Rivers State.

The bill which they are lobbying to be an executive bill, will prescribe imprisonment for persons involved in the racket of street begging.

NOA Rivers State director, Oliver Wolugbom,  revealed this  during a five year training on lobby and advocacy for stakeholders in the eradication of chronically ill persons on the roads, organised by Daughters of Charity, Corpus Christi, Port Harcourt yesterday.

Wolugbom said many sting operations by the agency in collaboration with the Catholic church and other stakeholders, revealed that street begging in Port Harcourt  has become a big racket perfected by some gang leaders.

He explained that findings had revealed that the kingpins of the begging racket, go to the villages and lure chronically ill persons to the cities with a promise to cure them of their affliction.

“some of the street beggars are persons are people who have been made to believe that they can be cured  by those who lure them to the city, even with offer to shelter them. little do they know that they have been tricked to the city to be used for exploitation”  he said.

Concerned about this serious social issues in Port Harcourt and its environs, he explained that his agency and the Christian community in the State are to draft a bill to outlaw the use of chronically ill persons for street begging across Rivers State.

He hinted that the bill will prescribed punitive  punishment for kingpins who exploit chronically ill persons for their pecuniary interest.
Wolugbom observed though there are existing laws prohibiting street begging, but, the new legislation being canvassed by his agency and the church, will specifically seek to eradicate the exploitation of critically ill persons for street begging.

He stated that though there are those who beg because they are handicapped, and unable to work and really need money for basic needs. He said part of the agency collaboration was to lobby government to provide a place for these disabled persons where compassionate individuals could contribute to their upkeep.

The NOA boss, explained that begging gangs operating in cities like Port Harcourt allots a certain sections of the city for a group of beggars and the day’s earnings are shared among them. according to him, the leader of the gang behind the begging racket, keeps the larger chunk of the money earned per day.

He said it was inhuman for the gangs involved in the beggars racketeering to subject chronically ill persons to hardship, under whatever guise.

He expressed confidence that when the bill is submitted to the executive arms and it is eventually passed into law, the menace of using
chronically ill persons for begging will be eradicated.

He said the Catholic Church through the Daughters of Charity and other stakeholders, are making conscientious effort to remove chronically ill persons from the streets of Port Harcourt and its environs, with a view to threat and fend for them.

“Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man”  Ecclesiastes 12:13


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