A severely depressed part of Oyingbo in Lagos is a thriving sex market, where child prostitutes are the wares
Ordinarily, the area opposite the popular Mainland Hotel in Oyingbo, Lagos, should kill the appetite – whether for food, drinks or sex. It is the definition of dreary.
There is as much filth per square metre as a refuse dump. Chaos rules, whether in the architecture or daily lives of residents. Homes, erected indiscriminately, are grim shacks made from roofing sheets, bricks, cardboards and any other material available. Ventilation, by and large, is optional. On account of the generous amount of filth available, flies are some of the happiest inhabitants of the area. Since there is enough filth to go round, the flies never need to exert themselves.
But the area does not kill appetites, at least, for sex and alcohol. As grim as the place is, it still gets many loins throbbing, a state of affairs that has yielded a thriving sex market.
The busiest points of this market are five spectacularly dingy brothels – Niger, Juba, Titilayo, Izibar and Chico – all located on the shoulders of the railway line that runs through the slum from Iddo.
The market comes alive once dusk falls, becoming the sexual playground of cobblers, vulcanisers, motor park touts and, some say, illicit drug users. The prostitutes use the railway line as the runway to parade their wares. Of course, wearing as little as possible is the equivalent of dressing up.
Prostitutes here are mainly of three types: the old, washed-out hags; the about to be washed-out and the presumably fresh ones in their teens. With as little as N200, a man can procure a quick bout of sex. More enduring sessions are naturally costlier. Depending on a customer’s bargaining ability, a prostitute could be had for a whole night for between N2,500 and N8,000.
There are other services in-between. If a patron wants only oral sex, he gets it – for a fee. It is not a fixed one, though.
The girls pay the managers N1,500 daily as rent. There are other fees and fines that can be slammed on the tenants when circumstances arise.
At 14 and standing over five feet tall, Success, one of a large number of teenage hookers in the area, has big dreams. She wants to go to Morocco, from where she hopes to find her way to Spain. That dream has been held back by the fear of having an unsuccessful trip. She also wants to get married. “My parents bother. If not for them and the need to get married when I am old, I would have gone by now,” she said.
Success, despite her age, is adept at what she does. She approaches sex as unfussily as an accountant handles a ledger.
Inside her poorly ventilated room at Juba Hotel, she showed that it was strictly business. “Sir, please pay me and come and sex me, let me go and hustle,” she told this reporter.
The girls came to the brothels for various reasons. Success views the brothel as a springboard to greater things. Franca, a 16-year old native of Delta State, told this medium that she left her state for Lagos in the hope that she would make good money here and when she returns, she would be the envy of her friends. Another teenage hooker, Ngozi, said she came to Lagos out of adventure.
Clients are provided in decent numbers by the nearby luxury bus parks from where passengers travel to the northern part of the country. Life in the prostitutes’ enclave is structured. At the top is the “chairman”, who represents the owner of the building. He collects rents from the girls, ensures discipline and settles matters relating to police and street urchins that run protection rackets.
“Police do come here regularly because of the bad boys. But because our chairman settles the policemen, they don’t disturb us,” Ngozi said.
Neither the Divisional Police Officer nor any officer of the Denton Police Station, Ebute Metta, would speak on the matter. Unsurprisingly, the area is crime-infested.
According to residents, laws are rarely enforced, making the place a paradise for the criminally-minded. Social amenities are virtually non-existent. According to Dr. Grace Ijarogbe, Consultant Psychiatrist, Federal Neurological Hospital, Lagos, a slummy environment predisposes dwellers to sex-related ailments and crime, as well as alcohol and drug use.