Although the average Lagosian knows there are prostitute joints in the metropolis, recent influx of teenage prostitutes from neighouring countries is becoming a source of concern to all who feel that such social vices to the city, apart from threatening youth development, may turn the country into a sex tourism destination, among other implications. GEORGE OKOJIE writes

Although prostitution is considered as one of the oldest professions known to mankind, not a few tongues had wagged over the fact that the business is seriously attracting relatively young girls who recently invaded Lagos State from within and outside the country for professional sex trade.

More worrisome is the fact that the teenage prostitutes on the prowl in Lagos have embraced use of illicit drugs in the course of practicing their trade. Their increase in number defines the variety of their passion for use of hard drugs which ranges from codeine, Chinese capsules, Indian hemp, tramadol, among others.

LEADERSHIP Sunday checks showed that there is a surge in the number of such teenage whores said to have migrated mostly from Cameroun, Republic of Benin and Senegal and others said to have returned from Libya. There is also another category brought into the city from other states of the country by human traffickers to work and make money for them.

Their market comes alive once dusk falls in places like Oyingbo, Yaba , Ebute- Metta Ikorodu, Toyin Street , Ipodo area of Ikeja and Obalende, among other locations in Lagos notorious for teenage prostitutes.

Interestingly, while the older ones wait to be approached by men, the seemingly young prostitutes in their teens tend to be more adventurous, engaging in serious touting for clients.

With as little as N500, a man can procure a quick bout of sex with them, while they charge higher for longer sessions. The teenage prostitute could be had for a whole night for between N3000 and N5,000 depending on a customer’s bargaining ability.

From the windows of a poorly ventilated room at Ipodo area of Ikeja, Lagos, which is one of their dens for public touting of the teenage girls for sex for payment, will shock anyone not prepared for such business.

Bridget, a Cameroonian told LEADERSHIP Sunday that she would have loved to be in school for further studies like her age mates in her country but the means to continue her education is not there.

Relishing a bottle of lager beer, she said, “I am 15 –years old I came to Nigeria September, 2017 to hustle . What I do to survive is that you have sex with me, you pay me money. Sometimes I go to nude clubs on Fridays in Opebi where we strip and dance, from there I get customers and follow them home. That is good Friday business. If I get good Lagos ‘bobo’ that likes to spend money he can give me N10, 000 , dash me big phone because I will satisfy him. I sell some of the phones I get from guys and keep the money in my account. The owner of the Strip club will pay me N5,000 per night that is N15, 000 that I made that night.

“The money I am looking for will soon be complete and I will go back to my country in Cameroun to start cream business. My mother makes body and hair cream but no money to buy the materials we need to produce large quantity that is why I followed my aunt to Nigeria to hustle. When the money is complete I will go back. We are three girls in a room and we contribute money to pay our ‘Chairman his rent.

On how many men she can sleep with in a day she says,” I can handle ten men when there is no good market. They will pay small, small money like N500 , N1,000 to do sharp , sharp and go for another man to come in. If I am feeling somehow I will take beer. I don’t take drugs like others.”

Caro another victim of circumstance who took to prostitution as a teenager being on the streets as a whore is not the best. She said she would have quitted the profession earlier, if she had a better alternative.

She said,” I am 16 years, I attended secondary in Lagos, had six credits in my Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination and wanted to study Accountancy in the university but the money to achieve my dream was cut short by the death of my father. My mother a petty trader was left all alone to cater for five children. Initially, I got a job as sales girl in alcoholic beverage blending company in Ogun State where I was being paid N25,000 monthly. By the time I eat and take transport I don’t really have anything left. I can’t support myself and my family.”

She said her neighbour who was helping her family, introduced her to prostitution.

Caro said, “Gladys is my neighbour and friend. She had things and also helping out in her family. One day my mum challenged me to see what she was doing for her parents. That she was gradually taking them out of poverty. She said if I wanted to be successful I should do what those that have succeeded do. Gladys later confided in me that I could actually follow her in the evenings from where we live in Ogudu to Obalende and Ikoyi areas to sleep with men and make cool money.

‘’At first I didn’t like the idea but I felt you can use what you have to get what you want. People tell me I am beautiful, I have some curves and very attractive to most men. No matter what people think about it, I survive on it and assist my mum from money I make from it.”

While Bridget and Caro willingly took up prostitutions as their occupations at very tender age to weather the storms of life, Deborah was tricked and forced into it.

Deborah before she was recently rescued in a brothel in Lagos stunned a lot of people when she said she has slept with over 90 men in a desperation to make more money.

Deborah who was among the four girls rescued from their mistress and her husband, who trafficked them from Akwa Ibom State to Lagos with a job promotion but they ended up in a brothel said, “Aunty ” mistress approached my parents that her husband, Ikechukwu, has a job offer for me in Lagos. I was so happy and I decided to follow them.

“It was when we got to Lagos he took me to a brothel where he said that I would be sweeping, but at night he introduced me to other girls after which he took us to a native doctor where we were forced to take the oath of secrecy.

“The native doctor shaved our pubic hair and used it to prepare some concoction which he gave us to drink. After drinking, our madam and her husband now briefed us that we were in Lagos for a business of prostitution. We have no alternative than to agree as we have no money to go back home and we were also under an oath.

“Our madam opened a register for us. He was making it for us. We remit any money to madam. She was responsible for our feeding and clothing. We pay for our accommodation. The madam knows how much we collect. We collect N2,500 or N300,00 per a round of sex.

‘’If it is all night we charge up between N5,000 to N6,000.We handed over the proceeds to madam. We told her the truth because of the oath. Well, I won’t lie, I was sleeping with an average of seven men on weekdays, but at the weekend, we used to have many customers. I used to sleep with up to 12 men.

‘’Well, I am an adult because I am 18 years. You may blame me, but she did not tell me that I was coming to do prostitution in Lagos. I swear, I was forced into it.’’

But Vera, her aunt picked holes in her claims of being forced into the profession, saying nobody should blame her because none of the girls she recruited into the profession is below 18.

She said, ‘’They knew what they were coming to do, even though they were pretending. I did not force them to take the oath. They were not forced to sleep with men.

‘’How many of them were virgins before I gave them jobs? Many of them have been on the job and instead of showing gratitude, they are being ungrateful. I was saving money for them for one year. At the end of the year, they would have gotten big money”.

This scenario obviously did not go down well with Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, who said the Command received information that one Ikechkwu and Vera were trafficking in human persons.

Egdal said that it was alleged that the traffickers who are husband and wife, were bringing girls from other States such as Imo, Akwa-Ibom and Rivers States to Lagos State for prostitution.

According to him, based on the strength of the information, operatives of the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad (FSARS) were directed to investigate and arrest the suspects involved.

He said that the Investigation by the FSARS men led to the arrest of the said Ikechukwu, 27, and Vera, 26, at Wagbas Hotel Ajah, Lagos.

According to him, “Four victims were rescued. They are Helen, 22, Debora, 18; and Chinwendu,18. The victims confessed that the suspects lured them to Lagos with a promise of a job and better living. They also narrated that they were taken to a shrine in Epe-Ijebu and were made to swear an oath that they would not abscond from the hotel. The painful aspect was that after sleeping with various men, they surrender the proceed to Vera.”

To act as deterrence, he said the suspects would be charged to court.

Decrying the trend, Moses Ajala, a Sociologist said to a large extent, the society makes people what they eventually become, saying the prevailing economic crunch and failure of African leaders to deal with social vices portend bleak future for Nigerian youths.

He said, ‘’ We all know that prostitution, be it underage or not is illegal in Nigeria. Underage prostitution and the operation or ownership of brothels are penalised under sections 223, 224, and 225 of the Nigerian Criminal Code. Again the nation’s criminal system prohibits national and trans-national trafficking of women for commercial sex or forced labour. But we all know they operate underground and in spite of the legal difficulties.

‘’In all of these, poverty remains a crucial factor that is driving women towards an occupation such as prostitution. The government can come up with social interventions, policies that could help these young girls to realise their dreams rather than embracing professional sex trade,” he said.