They are easy to identify. They always clutch onto their plates and always move in droves. They are mostly boys between ages 8 and 18. Their mission is usually to beg for free food.
Before now, they played hosts to core northern states. Since most Nigerians are either flocking to Abuja or Lagos, the Al-majiri have invaded the Federal Capital Territory and not a few residents see their influx as worrisome.
The children often position themselves near food outlets where food lef overs are emptied into their pans. When darkness arrive, they sleep anywhere – under bridges and in uncompleted buildings.
They are a common sight in Nyanya, Kuje, Kubwa and some of the busy parts of the metropolis.
Following crackdown of the Al-majiri in FCT by EL Rufai, the Almajiris relocated to Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger States. Lately, they have returned to FCT in great numbers.
According to the manager of SAP-CLN, Dr Grace Adogo, “There is a recent scourge we discovered lately – that most of these children you see on the streets are not even Nigerians.
“They do not speak English, neither do they speak Hausa. They just do signs for you because they cannot speak your language. So, it brings in the issue of immigration.
“The authorities have to get into it and see who is bringing the children. And you see, with the insurgently in some African countries, there is bound to be an increase in such incidences.
“FCT is a Mecca of some sort for other African countries. They feel that there is so much here, you can get anything you want.
“So, these children, like the ones we have been able to take off the streets, some have reconciled with their families; not even in FCT but in Katsina, Kaduna etc.
“Some are still in the training centers in Bwari and they are undergoing various trainings. Some of them are physically challenged.”
However, with the coming of the present administrations in the FCT and at the federal level, the almajiris have invaded the capital city again and the authorities seem not in a hurry to dislodge them.
The unrestrained inflow of Almajiris into FCT is a dangerous development because of the security implications.