Street hawking in the FCT is a menace that seems to defy all known solutions. Efforts made so far to curb the menace and some enabling laws on children’s rights.

Street hawking has been roundly condemned as being unsafe, children in most cities in the FCT have continued to defy the government ban orders and sell their wares on some strategic roads. Children who hawk in the street have become bold and assertive that they tend to disrupt free flow of traffic on major roads at the same time, endangering their lives.

A street hawker ran after a coaster bus, trying to collect her N50 from the passenger who bought her fried plantain when an on-coming ‘araba’ bus almost hit her ; it was the driver’s wisdom that saved her (this happened shortly before the ban on araba). When Martins Library Team accosted her, she said, “my Aunt brought me from our village in the East to come and learn trading, I didn’t know it was hawking, until I got here. There are four of us who were brought to hawk for her. In the night we sleep in a small batcher behind her house in Karmo, while she and her family sleep in a room and parlour.

The children go to school while we wake up and do the house chores before madam will finish frying the plantain, package it and give it to us to go and sell.  We sell more during heavy traffic. We bring our wares in the evening and go home late. I don’t get to see my parents until Christmas time when we are allowed to travel home. We are told that, we can’t go to school, that if we are able to learn trading, we will make more money than people that went to school”.

  Another teenage hawker, Jime Okireya said, he has been selling in the streets of Abuja for over three years. “l begged my ‘Aunt’  to bring me to Abuja to come and make money. I was tired of just farming and selling few bush meat. I wanted quick money, but it is obvious that I can’t make it selling handkerchiefs and socks in the hold up. I didn’t know life in Abuja was going to be difficult. But I won’t go back until I have made it. I am saving to go and buy a motor cycle which I can be using for ‘Okada’ back home. Street hawking is dangerous because we deal with environmental protection agents who will catch you and seize your wares. There is also the hot Abuja sun and dangers vehicles pose to us, but I will rather hawk than steal”.

A town planner who spoke with Martins Library Team on the menace of street hawking said, “as much as I don’t like the way these children litter the road and dash-in between cars, I still lay the blame on government. If they had provided resources, jobs or free education for these children, they will have no reason to come and hawk in the street and become a nuisance.

Developed countries make policies that provide free education for children, but here in Nigeria, though with much resources and wealth, education is left for the rich. Poor folks prefer to send their children to the streets to hawk with all the inherent dangers associated with it. Street hawking that was once  taken for granted is now accepted as part of life in Nigeria while the dangers of street trading is becoming an issue only to a couple of people who feel that government should  have taken a decisive step to solve the problem.  Street hawkers are mostly living with relations, not parents, because most biological parents want the best for their children. It is a common knowledge that no decent person would like to send his child to hawk. Aside littering the streets, they make the roads unsafe for road users.

A social welfare officer urged government to sign the child rights bill so that the Authorities will start enforcing the Child Rights act that was passed by the National Assembly. According to him, only a few states have signed the bill into law which is to eliminate teenage-street hawking.  Most of the children who hawk know the dangers involved yet they do it to make ends meet. Children being made to hawk on the street is child abuse; the task force agents are fond of raiding these children, maltreat them  and take their goods. Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations and that of the African Union on the Rights and responsibility of the African child which defines the child as “a person below the age of 18 or any age as shall be specified by each individual member of the organization.

They clearly spell these rights as follows: the Right to qualitative education, health care, love and care, adequate food and shelter, right to clean environment and the right to relaxation and recreation. Children are our future and our values; they need our protection. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child states that, “mankind owes the child the best it has to give”. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989, signed and ratified by Nigeria, states that every child, before and after birth, should have a right to life, basic education, freedom of expression, right not to be used for forced labour, child trade and child trafficking, among others”.

A psychologist and counselor said, “children are engaged in hawking to bring money for their mistresses, masters and relatives. But this often results in educational deprivation for the child involved. Child hawking is a form of child labour that leads to stunt growth, malnutrition and feeling of being worn out. But the UN declaration of human rights of 1945 state that, “a child should have the necessity of lives of which education and good health are paramount. Every child is supposed to have a right to qualitative education, right to health care, right to love and care, right to adequate food and shelter, right to live in a clean environment and right to relaxation and recreation”.

The counselor also stated that, they (children) have the right to life, survival and development; the right against exploitation, child labour and to be protected against torture, abuse, inhuman and degrading treatment, injury or assault; rights to parental care and protections and right to protection from all forms of sexual exploitation or encouragement to engage in sexual activities or pornographic activities.

 A staff of Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB, who pleaded anonymity stated that, “the FCT administration is making efforts to ensure that  street trading is stopped once and for all.  A provision is being made for street hawkers to be captured in the on-going registration of hawkers in the city. We are also partnering with other agencies of government to get a good location where an informal market will be built for these hawkers.

These hawkers are very stubborn, they have refused to comply with the AEPB Act of 1997, section 35, but when our people arrest some of these kids, for those who don’t have anybody to look after them, we take them to the rehabilitation centre in Bwari and for the adults amongst them, they are taken to court before they are sent to prison, if they are not able to pay the stipulated fine. They have been told not to hawk in the city centre, we don’t bother them when they do it in satellite areas, but here in the city centre, it is prohibited yet they keep defying the orders and when we arrest them, they call us wicked people. This is the capital of Nigeria and we want to maintain the standard that our founding fathers had in mind”.

Share on Google Plus


The publications and/or documents on this website are provided for general information purposes only. Your use of any of these sample documents is subjected to your own decision NB: Join our Social Media Network on Google Plus | Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin