Abuja — A law that bans street begging in northeastern Nigeria has come into effect.
Effective Monday the government of the Borno State will prosecute individuals caught begging within the metropolis, especially at roundabouts, junctions and traffic light stands.
A mobile court has been established to deal with such cases.
"Any person(s) found in the said act will be arrested and prosecuted accordingly," said Usman Sadiq Usmobik, Borno police spokesman.
Usmobik reiterated the warning by Mohammed Ndatsu Aliyu, the state Commissioner of Police.
"The command will not fold its arms and watch unscrupulous elements jeopardise the hard earned peace and security of the state. He (Aliyu) therefore calls on parents to control and monitor their children or face the anger of the law," Usmobik said.
The police believe individuals had no excuse to beg as the state government recently empowered youths and impoverished people loan sums of N30 000 (R1 225) each to start informal businesses.
Authorities believe begging exposes women and children to the risk of trafficking and other abuses.
"The Commissioner of Police hereby warns those involved in these brazen acts of public nuisance in contravention of relevant provisions of the penal code and other extant laws to desist forthwith or face the wrath of the law," Usmobik said.
Street begging is already illegal in Lagos, Nigeria's most populous city (22 million people). It carries fines of N15 000 and up to three months' imprisonment.
Borno is the state worst affected by terrorism perpetrated by the Islamist Boko Haram group.