The Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, yesterday issued a warning against street begging, hinting of plans by his administration to criminalise street begging. Governor Ajimobi, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ismael Olalekan Alli, made this disclosure on Sunday while speaking at the second General Assembly of the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSMEN) in Ibadan with the theme: “Zakaah and Poverty Alleviation”.
He said if Zakaah was carried out as it should, there would be no need for anyone to become a beggar, adding that some of the beggars were responsible for crimes perpetrated in the state, and as a result have contributed to the increasing number of criminal activities across the length and breadth of the state hence, the need to criminalise street begging.
Ajimobi lamented that a very high number of the beggars came from other states of the federation on a daily basis. He said:
“We have been trying to send them away from the streets. As early as 6am you will see them coming down from buses from other states and in the evening they will return to their various states.
“We have heard now that Islam forbids begging, likewise government. We urge the media, law enforcement agencies and religious bodies to join government in discouraging it.”
The Governor further pointed out that the reason for which the state government has put in place many programmes including the agricultural initiatives was to ensure that all its residents got involved in decent endeavours and living. Sequel to this reason, he solicited support for government’s policies, saying they were for the benefit of all.
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Meanwhile, the guest speaker at the occasion who is also an Islamic scholar, Alhaji Femi Abbas, while speaking on the theme, bemoaned the fact that Muslims have neglected Zakaah which was aimed at reducing poverty. He also linked the increasing insecurity, corruption and other social vices in the country to poverty.
According to the stipulation of Zakaah which is regarded as one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, 2.5 per cent of a Muslim’s net income should be given to the poor. He nevertheless expressed disappointment over the non-adherence to the injunction by most faithfuls. Hear him:
“If Muslims in Nigeria can generate N34 billion on Zakaah every year, there will be less poverty and less begging”.