The Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, on Thursday, said it rescued five infants of about 14-month-old from beggars who used them to solicit for alms.
The infants were rescued at the Iyana-Ipaja area of the state and three suspects were arrested.
This is coming barely two months after the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development rescued three babies and apprehended two women for using less than a month old baby to beg for alms,.
The Ministry on October 4 also arrested a woman who hired three babies just to use them to beg at a pedestrian bridge in the state.
Investigations have also revealed that many of the kids were engaged directly for begging by their biological mothers while others were ‘rented’ and the beggars usually move from one location to the other, calling on passers-by and motorists they come across to assist them, and using babies or kids in their hands to elicit sympathy.
The Permanent Secretary, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, who paraded the suspects and rescued infants on Thursday before newsmen in the state, said the women and their infants were apprehended during routine rescue operations by the ministry.
“It is very sad that most of the beggars are not the biological parents of the children they use for begging. It is our responsibility as government to protect the dignity of children being used as tools for begging which is a punishable offence.”
While reaffirming government’s commitment to enforce the Child Right Law, the Perm Sec said one of the women was caught without her children as they escaped arrest on sighting the rescue team.
One of the suspects, Shakira Olatunde, 35, claimed her husband absconded when she gave birth to her child. She said: “I was selling rice and beans but when Customs seized my goods I became helpless.
“When I was selling sachet water, the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) officials arrested me,” Olatunde added.
The other, Mrs. Abosede Ayuba, who was arrested with two identical twins, claimed that she lost her husband when she gave birth to the twins.
According to her, “I used to work before but I stopped working when I did not have strength to work. As I speak, I don’t have a cup of ‘Gaari’ at home to give them.”