The Enugu State Government has restated a ban on activities and operations of scavengers and cart pushers as they posed a security threat to the state.
It said scavengers and cart pushers caught would be prosecuted in line with the state laws without exception.
Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, the Secretary to the State Government, disclosed this on Saturday after meeting with the leadership and representatives of the Hausa/Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba communities at the Government House, Enugu.
Lamenting that hundreds of petitions had been received from members of the public protesting against the activities of the illegal waste pickers, the SSG said enforcement of the ban and arrest and prosecution of violators would commence on January 29.
He observed that scavengers with evil motives were infiltrating the state, breaking into people’s homes and stealing their valuables.
The SSG said that the state was determined to protect lives of the citizens and safeguard their property against intruders.
Citing section 20 of Enugu State Environmental Law, Onyia said anyone caught scavenging within the state risks two years imprisonment.
He called on residents to be on the lookout for would-be-violators and report to the nearest police station or the taskforce set up for that purpose.
He said: “Enugu State Government is determined to protect every life and property of our citizens.
“That is our primary responsibility.
“We will ensure that every threat to the security and peace of the state is eliminated.
“The government will no longer condone the activities of scavengers in the state.
“We have to rid the state of every vestige of crimes by restoring sanity.
“We want to assure all residents in the state who are into genuine business that we will continue to work towards making the environment safer for them.”
Onyia said that the government set up a committee to assess the extent of the threats scavengers posed to the wellbeing of our law-abiding citizens after receiving complaints from residents of the state.
He added: “It was established that criminals are now roaming the streets posing as scavengers.
“Following this establishment, the government activated the law that provides against scavenging activities by outlawing these illegal operators.”
Onyia stressed that as a government with empathy and humane face, they allowed for time to communicate the order, saying that during the period, they observed that more of the scavengers had infiltrated the state.
He said: “So, we are now determined to enforce the law.
“This should serve as a warning to scavengers in the state.
“By Monday, the state taskforce will be out to give full effect to the proscription.”
Onyia further called on the law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute unrepentant scavengers and make examples of them.