By Arjiromanus Victor
Their dejected look will bring tears rolling down your cheeks. They are on every street of Lagos, corners, flyovers, and hideouts; you see them swarm around vehicles on traffic, chasing passersby. Indigent, many in their deformed states, out of pity, you stretch a giving hand to them, hardly suspecting some of these dejected looking fellows could ever think of, let alone commit it.The guns
Police nab man for robbery, 5 days after leaving prison
Criminals as beggars
They are masters in their shenanigans and in disguise. They commit hideous crimes at the peril of their unsuspecting benefactors who bear the brunt after their good deeds. Some, fraudsters collaborate with high profile criminals as kidnappers, armed robbers and ritualists, while others are drug carriers and takers, who choose to pose as beggars to easily escape the heavy hands of the Law.
Such is the case of a deaf mute, Emeka Uche, from Anambra state who disguise as a beggar to steal valuables in peoples firms. He goes about with a bowel in hand and a placard inscribed on it ‘Deaf and Dumb’.
He walks from one office to another and begs for money. But, as workers depart for the day, Emeka will go into the office and steal any valuable he finds there. However, on July 19, 2018, the table turned against him when he was caught on Closed Circuit Television Camera(CCTV) after he stole a Laptop at a photography firm in Opebi, Ikeja area of the state called firm Konical Minolta.
Investigations proved that Emeka had stolen at a training firm also located in Opebi. He struck after discovering that the occupant of an office in the firm was not on ground.
Armed robbers masquerade as beggars
Moses Majekodunmi who was arrested as a beggar revealed that he acts like a beggar not on daily basis but when he wants to attack motorists. According to him, ‘we are seven in number and we attack people by trying to seek for help from them and once we succeeded in catching our target’s attention, members of our gang will come out and attack’. We deal with cars and money. I don’t really know most of the guys I work with because they come to me once they have an operation and my share is N15, 000’.
He said he was given the contract through a man called Mike Oge and they met at a bar. “He is the only one that comes to meet me when we have an operation and I don’t know the remaining five guys.” According to him, they promised to raise money for his treatment, putting him on the streets of Lagos to raise money for three months, only to hand over the money realized to their leader who lodges in a hotel.
Similarly, seven suspects were apprehended by the Decoy Team of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), for importing eight physically challenged children into the State for the purpose of begging. The physically challenged; Aminu Kabiru, 12, Yusuph Nasiru, 9, Amina Kabir,12, Ayuba Idris ,12 were carried from different families, with a promise to help them.
The leader of the gang, Shukura to journalists that she: “hired Amina Kabir from her mother who happened to be her sister. she brings her early in the morning to stay under bridge to beg. She begs while I wait around. At the end of the day, we make between N3000 and N4000. Depending on what we made, I remove my own and I hand over the remaining to the lady. Before, we make between N5000 and N6000.
But now, things have changed. We don’t make up to that anymore. A lot of us are here now. Before you get to one car, another set of beggars have gotten there.” She said.
Also, in August 2018, one Folake Folade, who pretends to be mad and begs for arms for nine years at Cele Nicer, around Okokomaiko and Iyanoba areas, was discovered to be a ringleader of a syndicate that specialized in selling human parts, The suspect who was arrested alongside her accomplice identified as Emmanuel Gbenga, disclosed that some of her victims were men who she lured from hotels where she posed as a commercial sex worker.
Rich as Bankers
In the same vein, many Lagosians will swear to collect their monies back if they had known that some impostors are richer than many bankers and others who do decent jobs. There is the case of one Olatubosun, a heavy psychotropic drug user who begs for arms around Mobalaji Bank Area, beside Lagos state University Teaching Hospital, Toyin Street and Opebi in Ikeja.
He claims to make much from begging. “Every day, I make over N10,000 doing corporate begging. All days of the week, I am always in Mobolaji Bank, Anthony Roundabout, Toyin Street Roundabout and Opebi. At times, I collaborate with other beggars. Whatever we make, we share. But I get a larger share. What I do is that I get LASUTH drug prescription papers from their waste bin.
With this in my hand, I convince motorists, passengers and passers-by that I have a relative who is in need of money to buy drugs and I show them the prescription papers. In most cases, people take pity on us and give us lots of money which we share later. Most of us still go back to plough what we realized for the day into drugs.”
Ebuka told Vanguard that ‘he was deceived by some men around the busy Along, Ikeja, when they pretended to be working hard for the community, but demand money from passersby to support them.
They packed dirty out of a gutter, and placed it on the road, making people believe they have been cleaning the environment, then, they ask you to support them with some amount of money you have, at the end of the day, they abandon the dirt there, or throw it back into the gutter to begin the next day’
Some others are found on bridges, such as Oshodi, Lagos Island sweeping dirt from the staircases. They stop halfway, and beg for arms, posing like they have been busy doing clean up all day.
These once are always on a journey, but never going anywhere. They are mostly found in motor parks or garages. Some look decently dressed, while some shabby. You see them pose like someone coming from a long distance. Some will ask you to help them out and give them money to continue their journey.
‘Oga, na every day you dey Yaba without money?’ Madam Nkiru angrily rebuked a man whom she had had several encounters with, always begging for money to go to Yaba Narrating her experiences to other passengers in a bus garage at Mile 2, she said; That man has met her several times but, not knowing she is the same person. He always claims begs people for a hundred naira, saying he needs it to complete his transport fare.
While there are serious efforts by government and NGO’s to battle the menace of drug peddling, many drug peddlers have taking street begging as a new means through which they carry out their drug peddling business.
Such areas as Boundary, Suru, Okokmaiko, Shomolu, Mushin and Bariga. Vanguard gathered imposters that pretend to be a beggar but he distributes hard substances to users where they domicile.”