A new breed of beggars known as “Corporate Beggars” is rising around shopping malls, markets, bus stops, religious centres, hospitals and offices in Abuja.
Findings by journalists revealed that corporate beggars take begging as a livelihood and even earn more than some workers.
Some prey on the sympathy of unsuspecting Nigerians who find it difficult to distinguish genuine requests from beggars who cook up stories for people to pity them.
A good Samaritan, Godson Amadi, said he usually sees them at bus stops, markets and offices.
“ I know most of their strategy; they are usually well dressed. Some are real, and some are fake.
“It is either their wallets, or credit cards have been stolen. They look out for people riding in SUVs, official cars, or those who are well-dressed. Once you respond to their greetings politely, they strike,” he said.
A civil servant, Halima Sani, narrated her encounter with a female beggar at the federal secretariat car park. She said the beggar claimed her child was sick and she needed money for drugs, adding that she gave her N10,000.
“After some months, she met me at a bank with a baby strapped to her back when she accosted me, pleading for money to eat breakfast that she already had someone who refilled her cooking gas but was in need of money to buy food items to cook.
” I asked her if she remembered me, and I narrated how we met first, and she ran away,” she said.
Another victim, Esther Ibrahim, said that after encountering a corporate beggar at Kado fish market, she swore never to fall victim again.
She said a well-dressed lady approached her to help pay for one fish to cook for a sick patient.
“ On that same line, I went to buy chicken only to find her there begging again. Some of them have an agreement with the salespersons to return their share of the proceeds at the end of the day,” she said.
A businessman, Aliyu Audu, said he was used to them and the lies they tell to exploit innocent citizens, who they earn more than.
“ It’s either they need money for food, transportation, hospital bills or drugs, among others,” he said.
Meanwhile, journalists accosted a beggar at Wuse Market, who pleaded anonymity, saying that most of them begged because they had no other means of livelihood.
The beggar, who said she had been begging for 12 years, said before the removal of the fuel subsidy, she used to make up to N150,000 to N200,000 monthly.
“But because of the current economy, I now make between N90,000 and N100,000 monthly. The only thing I know how to do is beg, as it pays me more than getting a job,” she said.
Another beggar, Emmanuel Eze, said that begging pays his bills and earns up to N5,000 and above daily.
“I did not choose to beg, but the economy turned me into one.
“I used to work in a factory, but after the fuel subsidy removal, the company left the country and made me jobless; I have people who depend on me, and that was how I started begging,” Mr Eze said.
A beggar with a disability, Isa Isa, said he was born that way into a family of 108, adding that his father had four wives.
“Now I beg for fun as it’s the only job I understand; I make more than N300,000 monthly,” he said.
Another 12-year-old beggar, Nuhu Bello, said he begs for his family to feed.
“My father is dead; he was a beggar, and my mum can not beg. I have to do it to feed her and my four siblings,” he said.