Barely six months after they were evacuated from the streets of Jos and other parts of Plateau State on the orders of the Northern Governors’ Forum, almajirai have returned to their former locations for alms solicitation.
The NGF, an umbrella body of the 19 northern state governors, had in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in April banned the Almajiri system in the region.
The governors had followed up the move by evacuating over 11,000 almajirai to their various states of origin and promised to continue the exercise until the region was rid of the street children, while rehabilitating those involved in the act.
The Chairman of the NGF, Simon Lalong, who is also the Governor of Plateau State, where over 183 almajrai were evacuated, had insisted that the decision to take them out of the streets was in the best interest of the region.
Checks by our correspondent in Jos on Sunday revealed that those evacuated might have returned to their former positions as some children and young boys were sighted in the metropolis on Sunday at various locations, including the Hill Station junction, British American junction as well as Terminus roundabout, among others, soliciting alms.
One of the almajirai, Muhammadu Salisu, who claimed to be among those evacuated to the Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State in April, told our correspondent that he was forced to return to Jos to continue his alms begging so as not to die of hunger.
Salisu, who spoke through an interpreter while clutching a bowl that he uses for begging in his left hand, said, “I was among those captured in Jos and taken to Wase. We heard that they will take care of us and that made us happy initially, but when we got there, we saw a different thing.
“There was no one to take care of us. Feeding was my major problem. After some time, I managed to board a truck coming to Jos and that was how I started to beg again to enable me survive.”
Another almajiri, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “I was not taken to anywhere outside Jos. I only refused to come out for begging for some time when we heard that the government was after those on the streets. I decided to come back and continue when the noise about almajirai subsided.”
When contacted, the Coordinator, NGF Secretariat and Secretary to the Plateau State Government, Prof. Danladi Atu, expressed shock at the return of the almajirai on the streets of Jos and other parts of the state.