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Editorial Still On Port Harcourt And Menace Of Street Beggars

For some time now Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, the Garden City and Treasure Base of the nation has been besieged and in fact, held hostage by undesirable elements generally referred to as beggars. Though street begging may be as old as the society, said to be synonymous with the Muslim religion and commonly practised in the northern part of Nigeria before now, the ignoble trade is fast  becoming the norm across the country.

Port Harcourt for instance, is said to be housing over five thousand beggars who  loiter the street of Port Harcourt and litter  the city. From Lagos Bus Stop in the old township  to Isaac Boro Park, Garrison to Rumuola Junction, Artillery to Eleme Junction, to name but a few, the story is the same.

The most recent group of beggars and perhaps the militant arm of the profession are  the Arabs believed to have come from Chad and Niger Republic as the case may be. This notorious group comprising mainly of illegal immigrants have adopted assault as their style for achieving their aims.

While their parents dressed in Ninja- like attire sit strategically at the street corners watching their children go on rampage, holding every passerby in such uncivilized manner, their parents monitor the process with keen interest. There have been cases where this category of beggars were said to have been involved in robbery operations, killing and maiming their victims.

In fact there are historical evidence that when the Dravidians(original black Egyptians) were invaded by the Arabs, the Ninja -like beggars complemented the efforts of the invaders in toppling and overthrowing the legitimate Egyptian government then. We can now appreciate the dangers associated with allowing such able bodied men loiter or lurch around our cities, in the name of begging.

Just recently at Rumuola Junction, four men were said to have lost their manhood (penis) to a beggar after giving him money. The list of atrocities committed by these urchins are endless.

The question now is, are there no ministries or government agencies charged with the responsibility of managing street begging or other social malady in Rivers State? We are aware that the Ministry of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation have that as part of its brief, but what is not clear now is to what extent this task is being carried out.

Permit us to say that with the number of beggars and mad men along our streets today, it is obvious  that the Social Rehabilitation Ministry is not doing enough in that direction.

The Immigration Service in Nigeria is also not living up to expectation, otherwise how would these illegal aliens in the first place gain entry into  this country, not to talk of  assaulting  innocent citizens of Nigeria  in the name of begging?

In these days of insecurity, occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency, it is expected that our Interior Affairs Ministry would have taken extra precautions to ensure that only genuine immigrants are allowed in to the country.

Recent security reports have shown that 80% of the Boko Haram bombers arrested by  security agents are not Nigerians. In a country where the safety of  its citizens are paramount, that report is enough to force any responsible  government to tighten the borders of such country, but in Nigeria the reverse is the case.

In view of the negative implications and activities of these so-called beggars, coupled with the current security challenges in the country, we are of the opinion that these militant beggars and other miscreants on the streets of Port Harcourt masquerading as alms seekers be removed without further delay.

No reason will be accepted from the appropriate authorities for failing in this all important assignment.

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