In recent years, alms begging has assumed a frightening dimesion. It has gone beyond the pathetic looking individual with the characteristic bowl seeking alms. Some of these people now play for higher stakes as they come with various claims of illnesses. They go about with a test result to convince a potential alms giver about their state of health and mention a bogus amount that they would need for surgery.
Some cheerful givers usually give bountifully to these people as it is seen as a matter of life and death.
Alms giving is considered a philanthropic venture and it is believed to come with attending blessings. However, the two major religions in Nigeria – Christianity and Islam – do not support begging but rather preach decent labour and productivity.
Although, the two faiths preach showing compassion to those in need, taking begging as a profession, let alone deceptive begging, is never encouraged. However, the current reality in Nigeria is that begging has become a vocation, not to those with disability or incapacitation but able-bodied men and women taking advantage of people’s compassion to fleece them of their hard earned money. Old garage area in Akure metropolis is flooded with beggars, usually those from the Northern part of the country.
A woman was more noticeable among the beggars. She wore a long hijab and also begged people for alms.
Her style of begging elicited more compassion than others. Not knowing she was being observed, this woman soon left her position and went to the side of the pharmacy. She was receiving a call on her very neat acquired phone and was speaking fluent Yoruba language.
Her accent indicates she might either be from Oyo or Osun State. This woman is well known to the people in the area because after her call, she was chatting with the Ibo sellers in the area and even helped one of them to change a thousand naira note to small denominations.
Those that gave her alms out of pity would definitely be shocked to see how much this woman has in her locally fabricated purse underneath her long hijab. When she was done, she returned to her place among the beggars and the ‘hustle continued’.
Late last year, one Onyedika Esiala was arrested in Lagos state for using children with fake tumour to beg for alms. In his confession, he said that he was working for his ‘Oga’ that fed the children with a black substance to make their tummy swell for the required hours that can cover the daily begging business. Onyedika further disclosed that the parents of the children, who were usually brought from the village, were aware of the orchestration and they got half of what was made through using the children to beg for alms.
He further revealed that there was another syndicate in Ajagbadi, Lagos state that was also in the ungodly business.Same last year, a lady, who claimed to be physically challenged and was on a wheel chair, was apprehended in Ikeja, Lagos State.
This came after another fake beggar was arrested in Abuja with a sum of N500,000 cash with her.Another case was that of Mrs. Chinagoro Uwenke, who made N3,500 to N5,000 daily from street begging.
She stopped her little son from going to school and wrapped his leg with bandages and poured Gentian Violet on it to deceive unsuspecting members of the public. Currently, the social media is awash by cunning people, who take advantage of the platforms to scam unsuspecting users.
Troubling pictures and posters of people in terrible conditions and in need of urgent medical attention that involve huge amount of money are usually shared to elicit compassion.A typical example is that of Alexandra. Anyone that is a frequent user of YouTube must have come across Alexandra, a 9-year-old girl that was begging people for help so she would not die of cancer.
The girl was portrayed as a desolate cancer patient who has already suffered severe hair loss and struggling for her life. Always in tears and in a very compassionate voice, she says in the video, “I don’t want to die”. If you are not careful, you would shed tears seeing such a pretty little girl begging for help to survive cancer.
Lo and behold, it was all a scam. It was discovered that it was not only Alexandra that was used by the network behind the fraud, Netiv Halev, there were other children used for same purpose in other countries and other channels. The fraud scammed over 16,450 People of about €1,000,000. Another style fake beggars use is to cook mind boggling stories so people can give them money. This is usually called ‘corporate begging’. Their claims range from being stranded, having someone in hospital, having hungry children at home to seeking medical help. The truth is there are many of them that people see and pity daily, not knowing that they fake whatever situation they give as reason to beg, it is faux. If you are conversant with Oba Adesida Road down to Oyemekun Road, you must have met a fair normal-sized body woman usually with an umbrella asking you for one hundred naira for transport. The neatly-dressed woman is always stranded and her usual line is ‘please can you help me with N100 for transport?”
Many times, our reporter have seen the woman begging for transport. It is her ‘hustle’ as Nigerian youths fondly describe scam.
Sharing her experience, Mrs. Adedunke Saliu narrated how a man came looking for her neighbour, Mr. Balogun, at night, claiming to be his brother saying that he was trying to reach him all to no avail. The man in question is not our neighbour but usually comes to a poultry farm close to us. According to her, the beggar claimed his wife gave birth to twins at one hospital and she was bleeding profusely, putting her life in danger.
“My mum, sister and I were worried because we have experienced someone that actually bled to death. We gave him money and he left immediately. It was when he left we started asking questions regarding why doesn’t have his brother’s number or any other relative to call.
“He gave us a number to call before leaving. When Mr. Balogun came, we told him about his brother whose wife gave birth and came looking for him. He said none of his brothers’ wives gave birth. We tried the number the man gave us, it was not going through. That was how we got to know we had been scammed”.
In Ibadan metropolis, Oyo, it is a common occurrence. It is a sort of business that children, youth and old people engage in. It is not even a one-off business but what these people wake up daily to do.
There was a couple in the business. All they do is trek and beg people to help them with transport fare every day. As soon as you give them, they move ahead, pretending to look for cab. Give them some minutes, they walk ahead and ask other people for money. One can only imagine how much they make daily.
The ripple effect of these fraudulent acts have ruined the chances for those that genuinely need help.
Like some people told The Hope, they stopped giving beggars money. Aside the rumoured rituals some people do with the money collected from beggars, discovering that some of the beggars are scammers has dissuaded some people from parting with their hard earned money.
Mr. Adeola Oluwasunkami said, “I have stopped giving beggars money. I cannot work day and night and someone will just sit somewhere and collect the money. I will rather drop the money in church or help someone close to me that I know is in need. But to give roadside beggars, no. Many of them are fake, You won’t even see any disability or affliction; they are just lazy and begging. If we all decide to beg, who will work?”
Miss Tosin Adaramola, after narrating her experience with people begging her for money, only to discover it is what they do, also said she usually feels reluctant to give alms to any beggar. “This woman came to me and crying that she needed money to go somewhere and she was stranded. I had to give her the last money on me. That was at Iwo Road. Two days after, I saw this same woman at Alakia. She did not recognise me apparently. She told me the same story and she was begging. I just hissed and left. If I had to talk, I may talk beyond bound. I just left her to her folly”, she explained.
Leave a Reply