By Josephine Oguntoyinbo & Saheed Ibrahim
Presence of young children of school age popularly known as Almajiris in major towns in the state is raising concern among residents.
Investigations by The Hope revealed that the Almajiris are becoming visible in the state capital and other towns raising social and religious concerns.
The migrants who are steadily pouring into the state from the Northern part of the country are mainly between ages five and 12 and have taken over strategic spots while begging for alms.
Visits by our correspondents to popular Sabo in Ore, Ondo town, Idanre, Ikare Akoko and Akure, the state capital, revealed frightening large members of the Almajiris.
It was gathered that major entry points into Ondo state now have clusters for Northerners, simply referred to as Shasha markets which harbour them in large number.
Investigation by The Hope in Akure revealed that popular places such as the Old Garage, Alagbaka, ShopRite, Post Office, banks and areas with Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), motor parks and big stores/supermarkets are now flooded with the Almajiris.
Some of the Almajiris interviewed on their mission in Ondo State; Sulieman and Yadi Abdul from Kebi State, Musa Yusuf and Tanko Garba from Sokoto, Munia and Raheeda young beggars from Kano state, Nana and Dandi from Hutua, Zaria claimed they came to the state in search of what to eat, “we came here to find what to eat”, they said.
While majority of them engage in alms begging, the grown-up have taken up various menial jobs such as cobbling, scavenging for scraps, herbs selling, petty trading and Okada riding.
It was gathered that out of 10 Okada riders in the state, five are from the North.
Reacting, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mr Fredrick Oladiran posited that the ministry would take necessary steps.
Oladiran, who spoke through the Child Development Director of the ministry, Mr Oluwaniyi Ogunleye, noted that the issue of Almajiris is not popular in the South West.
According to him, the Ministry was doing a lot at raiding the streets to evacuate beggars as well as enlightened them on the need to find legitimate jobs.
He said that the ministry would swing into action to address the issue when the report is confirmed adding that this set of people are not from the state.
“The state government under the leadership of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is a pragmatic one.The ministry is key to always implement the child right law as children’s welfare is priority to the present administration.
“Sections 30 and 50 of Child Right Law are very straight forward, street begging is an offense. These children are supposed to be in schools, enjoying the benefits of mandatory basic education as provided by the government.
“Definitely the ministry will do something about it in line with the state child right law 2007 which is also in line with the 1999 constitution as well as United Nations law on welfare and rights of children. All these laws made provisions for the right of children to enjoy basic education, behave normally, and be useful to the society.
“Therefore anything that exposes children and denied them of their rights and opportunity to be useful to the society in the future are condemned by the state government. The ministry’s officials are already on the streets to monitor and when it is confirmed, be assured that the ministry will take necessary actions”, he stressed.