18th November, 2011
The Special Court sitting in Alausa, Ikeja in Lagos, southwest Nigeria has sentenced nine hawkers to community service as part of their punishment for violating the environmental laws of Lagos.
The hawkers were apprehended by officials of the Lagos State Taskforce on Environment and Offences (Enforcement) Unit at Allen, Ikeja and arraigned before the special court at its premises.
Rather than fine the hawkers or send them to prison, the court decided to sentence them to community service for four hours and then let them go.
The hawkers were supervised by taskforce officials and those of Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI as they embarked on the community service at Oregun and Ogba Sunday Market where they swept public roads and clean the drainage in the area.
One of the hawkers, a Ghanaian, Yeboah Kojo said he just came from Ghana six days ago and that he was arrested while hawking puff puff at Allen, while pleading with the government to give him a job.
Another victim, who prefers to be called Ngozi said she was arrested for also hawking puff puff in the same area and also pleaded for a job from the government.
Chairman, Taskforce, Bayo Sulaiman told P.M.NEWS that the decision to sentence some offenders to do community service was to decongest the already overcrowded prisons in the state.
According to him, the offences warranting being sent to do community service were minor ones, ranging from hawking, traffic offences and so on.
He said most Nigerians would detest doing community service, especially when they knew that they would be on tape or their photographs published in the newspapers where their friends could easily see them.
â€œThe change in tactics is to get result. Lagosians donâ€™t like to be put to shame. With this punishment, they are likely to change. This will be extended to traffic offenders,â€ he said.
â€” Kazeem Ugbodaga