A row has erupted in Nigeria where some states have been rounding up street beggars and sending them back to their home states – saying that they are potential spreaders of coronavirus.
Rivers state is the latest example. Governor Nyesom Wike says he has instructed officials to “round-up and deport all vagrants, including the almajiris [young street beggars sent away from home to Koranic schools] to their states of origin to protect our people from the threat they present to the transmission of this pandemic.”
Similiar actions were announced by the governors of Kano and Kaduna states a week ago, prompting condemnation.
A rights group called the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project threatened to sue Kano state when it first announced the intention to deport hundreds of almajiris:
Human rights activists say these forced movements are unlawful under section 41 (1) of the constitution, which states: “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria or to reside in any part thereof.”
Critics say the authorities are ruthlessly exploiting temporary coronavirus lockdown measures to their own ends.