THE Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWG) has called on all states in the country to ban street begging, saying the idea of individuals or groups of persons lining the streets in cities and major towns across the country asking people for money and must be stopped.
The group particularly urged the governments of the 19 states of the North, where the practice is most common, to discourage the social menace by criminalising it.
In a statement signed by its national coordinator, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, the MMWG said begging on streets in Nigeria had reached an alarming proportion to the extent that some of those involved in the practice regard it as a profession.
The statement reads in part: “More worrisome is the participation of children of school age in the unwholesome exercise.
“To continue to watch the situation unattended is to live with a time bomb. In fact, the current insecurity in the country could partly be blamed on the lackadaisical attitude of the state governments of northern Nigeria to the issue of street begging. Some of the beggars are vulnerable to being recruited for insurgency and terrorism. Therefore, as we search for solution to insecurity, we must target the lazy and terrible youths who are involved in begging.
“Unfortunately, some bad Quranic teachers and irresponsible parents and guardians have abdicated their responsibilities of good orientation and parenting by leaving their children and wards to roam the streets begging. This must stop.
“Islam is totally against begging. Prophet Muhammad was reported to have told someone who came to him begging to pick a cutlass and go to the bush to cut firewood and be selling instead of begging. This underscores the importance of hard work and the need for people to know that Islam abhors begging.”
It commended Kaduna, Kano and Nassarawa state governments for banning street begging and urged other states, especially in northern Nigeria, to place similar ban on this social challenge.
“Islamic religious teachers supporting begging have limited knowledge and must be ignored. As a matter of fact, with ministries of social development in all states in Nigeria, a careful planning could be evolved whereby genuinely poor, old people and people with any form of disability could be catered for instead of encouraging begging as a means of livelihood.
“Parents and guardians who are truly poor could be helped by the state governments through taking responsibility for their children’s education, clothing, feeding and general welfare.
“The abdication of this process and lack of planning for the underprivileged among us by all state governments brought us where we are today ,” the group said.
The so-called Almajiri schools introduced during the [Goodluck] Jonathan administration was another form of corruption where funds and materials were allegedly diverted to personal pockets. This must be stopped henceforth,” the group said.