Stories by Stanley Onyekwere
No fewer than one hundred social workers were yesterday drilled on standard operation procedures for apprehension and evacuation process, aimed at improving handling of people involved in commercial prostitution, street hawking and begging in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In particular, the workers mainly field officers and some members of the security at the programme were comprehensively educated by resource persons, who were drawn from different security formations, human rights groups, as well as trained and experienced social workers.
Our correspondent reports that the capacity building workshop organized by the FCT Social Development Secretariat (SDS) through its Social Welfare Service Department, held at the FCT Exhibition Pavilion, adjacent the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja.
Declaring the training open, SDS Secretary, Alhaji Oladmeji Ali Hassan, It’s aimed at training the trainers, to help reduce human rights abuses in the handling of destitute, prostitutes, hawkers and beggars constituting nuisance in the FCT.
Hassan, who was represented at the occasion by SDS’s Director of Admin and Finance, Alhaji Umar Marafar, disclosed that the Secretariat deemed it necessary to bring together all the security agents and social workers that are involved in curtailing the menace, so as to retrain them, in order to go and train others to improve in the way they handle those they apprehend around the city, in line with human rights regulations.
According to him, “those involved in the menace are not criminals, but constitute nuisance in the nation’s capital, because there are mistakes made here and there in the apprehension and evacuation procedures, so whatever standard we are employing must be in line with established Human rights.”
Earlier in her welcome address, Director, Social Welfare, Felicia Nwogu, explained that the capacity building was conceived as a result of experiences on the field in apprehending hawkers, beggars, and commercial sex workers among others on the streets.
Describing the menace as a vicious circle, as perpetrators seemly remain unfazed even after consistent apprehension and sensitization on the dangers of engaging in such nefarious activities, the Director reiterated that the government would not relent on its efforts to curb the scourge.
She said: “Overtime there have been incidences of accusations of abuses from human rights activists that these people are not criminals, which is the truth, but they constitute nuisance on the streets of FCT, however they should be treated with respect and dignity.
“And we know that the Present FCT Administration has already placed zero tolerance on such issues (activities) beggars, hawkers as well as commercial sex workers are not supposed to litter the streets, thereby not only constituting nuisance, but also security threat.
“Our officers directly involved in the apprehension and evacuation of these people should be able to apply the standard human right principles in the discharge of their assigned mandate of riding the city of the menace.”