The Chairman, FCT Ministerial Committee on City Sanitation, Ikharo Attah has disclosed that the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, will soon address the issue of begging on the streets of Abuja, stating that the mandate of his committee is to clear the city of anything illegal that poses threat to residents.
Nectes Gospel Media has observed the recent influx of beggars into Abuja which has resulted in serious security concerns within the city centre and other satellite towns.
Ikharo in an exclusive chat with Nectes Gospel Media acknowledged the upsurge in the activities of beggars, saying that efforts were on top gear to ensure that anything posing threats to FCT residents were eliminated.
According to him, although the job of clearing beggars from the nation’s capital is handled by the Social Development Secretariat, they can work collectively with his committee in ensuring that the nation’s capital remains clean and safe through the removal of beggars from the streets.
According to him, ‘’it’s the work of the Social Development Secretariat to clear beggars, but we can talk on beggars because even the Abuja Environmental Protection Board are also helping in the removal of beggars. Generally, we are working hard to remove beggars as an administration.
‘’The sad thing is that people are coming into the city in large numbers to come and beg, and most of them live in very deplorable neighbourhoods and shanties. The beggars we meet, we try to tell them that there’s no law of the city that says that begging is an offence or crime, but the activities that beggars carry out; almost all of them is what we find very disturbing and that contradicts the AEPB Act which states that all acts that constitute nuisance in the city must be stopped.
‘’For people to come and line up in large numbers at traffic interchanges or traffic junctions, and some of them have children running after people’s cars, begging for money, knocking on peoples cars and all these acts infringe on other people’s privacy, and from our judgment constitute nuisance, and largely inappropriate. So we will try all we could to actually remove them.
‘’But the more you remove them, the more they keep coming back. This is why we keep begging people to stop giving them money because if there is no giver, there won’t be any beggars. Beggars come in here because they know that the people around give. So they work with that psyche.”
Responding to the allegation by some residents affected in a recent cleanup exercise along the airport road that they were not given enough notice, the Ministerial team chairman said they were given enough time, disclosing that when the Development Control went for final notice in the area, the residents chased them away with dangerous weapons.
‘’First, we gave them notice to vacate. The second one is the disturbing trend, that when we now visited them to give them the final notice, they chased our people away and almost beat them up and we had no choice but to give them about two weeks more, and thereafter, we went there.
‘’We told them earlier that you cannot be in Abuja and be buying land from local chiefs in such a sensitive location. Sadly also, what is disturbing is that most of the houses we removed were owned by uniformed men. Some of them, having given notice, didn’t tell the students in the hostel to vacate. They kept to themselves believing that we would not come, but we gave the students time to pack their loads, then removed whatever illegalities we saw,” he said.
In the case of Lower Usuma Dam, Attah said due process would be followed and that a reasonable notice would be given after his committee, Development Control and Water Board visit the area to further check the fence line and the existing beacons established by the Water Board, adjoining the green area of the dam.
He clarified that the clearing of the area would not be a blanket exercise as they would be working with a guideline.