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Boko Haram: You Can’t Ban Us, Street Beggars Tell El-Rufa’i

Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufa’i may be in for yet another crisis as over 100 street beggars, including the blind, physically challenged, their children, mothers and fathers, old and the young, stormed the premises of the State secretariat of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) yesterday morning for a peaceful protest over the banning of street begging announced five days ago by the State Government.

The beggars, who drove into the secretariat in four buses, demanded to know the rationale behind the ban on street begging, saying it was a violation of their fundamental rights as citizens of Nigeria.

“They are catching our people on the streets,” leader of the group, Ruluwanu Abdullahi, said as he ex pressed displeasure over El-Rufais’ remarks associating their children with Boko Haram suicide bombers. The beggars therefore threatened to invite beggars from all the 36 States of the federation to converge on Kaduna State if Governor El-Rufai fails to withdraw his decision after three days from Sunday or face legal action.

Governor El-Rufai had allegedly told leaders of the beggars during his campaign tour of his plan to stop street begging if elected as governor and directed them to compile the names of non-indigene beggars for him, while he asked those from other states to find their way.

The UNION gathered that earlier, beggars from other states, particularly, Dambata in Kano State, left Kaduna State in self-hired buses based on El-Rufai’s instruction, but the population has multiplied due to frequent pregnancy due to growing incest among fathers, mothers and their grown-up children in their colony.

It would be recalled that the ban on street begging and hawking was announced last Tuesday for security reason by Gov. El-Rufa’i after a bomb explosion which killed dozens in Zaria .

– Gabriel Idibia, Kaduna

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