Lagos street traders
Lagos street traders

Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), a civil society organisation, has condemned the recently introduced law in Lagos state which criminalised street-trading in the state.

In a statement in Abuja on Tuesday signed by its National Coordinator, Mr Emmanuel Onwubiko, the organisation said that the law was intended to stifle the economic activities of the poor majority in the state.

It described the law as “draconian, unconstitutional, un-African and uncharitable’’, saying that governments had had various policies which negatively affected the less-privileged in the society.

According to HURIWA, the policies and law are not only anti-poor but targeted at further economic enslavement of the poor masses in the country.

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The rights group reminded governments in states with such policies their actions were targeted at driving millions of Nigerians to their early graves.

It said that it was a shame that human rights activists and lawyers in Lagos state had maintained ‘graveside’ silence on the issue.

It urged Lagos State Government to have a rethink on the issue if it did not want to be taken to court on it.

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It said that the group would begin the mobilisation of Nigerians through the social media to stage mass action against Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode and his anti-poor policy.

It condemned Lagos government and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) environmental enforcement authority for pursing the “evil policies’’.

He said that the policies were contrary to section 14 (1) (2), section 15 (2) (a) (b) (c) and (d) (14) (1) of the 1999 Constitution.

Noting that Nigeria comprised states operating on the principle of democracy and social justice, HURIWA said that it was “pure evil’’ to enact laws that would further impoverish the masses.

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It urged governments of states and the FCT with such laws to provide affordable shops for the people.

It recalled that Ambode had in a broadcast of July 1 announced that the law on street trading in the state became effective on that day.

The governor said that both the buyer and seller would be equally guilty and that the penalty was N90, 000 or six months in prison or both.