The streets of Obalende, a bubbly neighbourhood on the Lagos Island, have over the years been prominent in the social history of the state. It seems the neighbourhood is not about to give up as it has become an attraction to prostitutes.
Our correspondent, who visited Obalende at 12 midnight on Saturday, reported that the area was filled with a large number of prostitutes who were mostly between the ages of 13 and 17 years.
Disorderliness and revelry seemed to be native to Keffi Street despite the presence of the Dodan army barracks and a police barracks in the vicinity.
No fewer than 15 prostitutes would make sexual advances as one walked down the street. Despite police patrols, people could be seen on the streets smoking Marijuana with other dangerous drugs being sold at different spots on the street. Soon the road was blocked as the fun seekers extended the partying to the middle of the road.
A young man who identified himself as Chima told PUNCH METRO that he regularly visited the place as it provided fun and cheap sex.
He said, “With just N1,000 you can buy a bottle of beer, a round of sex and a wrap of Marijuana. “I come here whenever I need to enjoy myself. I am just a trader here but with little money, I can enjoy the pleasures of a king.”
Chima told our correspondent that all the brothels in the area had different goods to offer depending on how much one was willing to pay.
“There are some brothels that are for the classy prostitutes while some are for the young ones. So, it all depends on your taste. But for me, sex is sex; that is why I can’t spend more than N500.
“I patronise prostitutes because depending on your mood, you can pick any kind of lady. In fact, you can sleep with two at once. You however have to be careful with them because they could steal your wallet the moment you remove your trousers,” he said.
When asked about policemen and soldiers’ reaction to the presence of prostitutes and illegal drug trade in their area, Chima said fun seekers did not have any problem with the two security agencies. He claimed, “Policemen do not really give us trouble. In fact, few of them patronise the prostitutes and they get free drinks. The soldiers also patronise them but secretly. The soldiers call the prostitutes into their barracks, so it’s done in a surreptitious manner.
“In fact, if you want a large quantity of weed, you can get it from the Mammy market in Dodan barracks. Soldiers are also fun seekers, but very good at hiding it as well.”
Our correspondent learnt that the teenage prostitute flocked the area due to the high demand for sex.
After moving round, our correspondent, visited one of the brothels in Keffi Street and solicited the help of a prostitute who identified herself as Tope. The brothel that Tope used houses a make-shift pub. It also, has many partitioned rooms each measuring about two metres in length.
In the brothel, half-naked ladies walked around, smoking, drinking and dancing to loud music. The small room which cost N200 to lodge had a blue coloured bulb, a spring bed and a thin mattress with a blue bed spread.
Tope charged N500 for a round of sex. She told our correspondent that she ventured into the sex trade because of poverty.
She said “I am from Ekiti but I’ve lived in Lagos for over three years now. I don’t have anyone to support me financially that is why I’m doing this.
“I am 17 years old with no parents or relatives here in Lagos. This job is what helps me survive.
Recollecting how she got into prostitution, Tope said, “I met a friend who told me she could help. She brought me into the brothel and introduced me to the manager. The manager of the brothel told me the rules I must abide by and said as long as I followed the rules, I wouldn’t have any problem.”
Tope told PUNCH METRO that policemen also patronised her. “Policemen also patronise me and the rest of the girls. But each policeman has his own customer. They do not come here in their uniforms. It is when we stumble on some of them in the town that we see them in their uniform,” she said.
She said, like most of the girls in her profession, she usually doesn’t work in the day. “I do not work during the daytime. I stay in my room in the brothel. I pay a rent of N500 daily. If I am lucky enough to get many customers, I can make as much as N3,000 in a day.”If you want sex for a short-time, you will pay me N500 for a round but if you want me for the night, then I collect a minimum of N3,000.”
Looking at the danger her chosen job could pose, Tope said most of the girls in her profession never leave the area to avoid getting kidnapped. “We don’t follow customers to unknown places. We take them up to our rooms. It’s N200 to use our room,” she said.
Concerned about the age of the majority of the prostitutes that were seen in the area, PUNCH METRO had a chat with some policemen on patrol, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, about why the prostitutes were not arrested. One of them said, “You are right. Many of these prostitutes are about 15 and below. But because they have matured bodies, you can’t really tell.
“Some days ago, while we were on patrol, we accosted a young prostitute who was smoking and she confessed that she was only 14 years-old.”
The policemen however said they had no reason to arrest them and also that they had not been authorised to do so.
“If government wants to get them off the streets, they should make it illegal for people to patronise them because if you just chase them away, they will move to another area and continue their trade,” one of them said.
A resident, who lamented the night life in the area said if nothing was done soon, the increasing number of casual sex workers, could increase insecurity in the area.
“Many of the ladies and the guys you see here do not live in the area. But because of the reputation of Obalende as a sex trade zone, they come from all other parts of the state such as Oyingbo and Ikorodu. As long as this problem persists, we will be having a great challenge soon.” he said.