By Favour Nnabugwu
Sells second hand clothes, goes night clubbing
FCT won’t be a safe haven for criminals – Minister
Tormenting words common among insane persons show in the character of a black, tall lady who is likely to be in her late twenties. Maria, as she is called, is single with no family; at least nobody claims to be related to her. She lives under a tree situated at a junction on Arab Road, Kubwa, Abuja. She speaks Yoruba and Hausa fluently. She has black pixie hair and displays her wares- second hand clothes and shoes. Wherever she bought the wares from to sell is a story for another day.
She sits beside her wares waiting for buyers till the evening time when she neatly packs and covers the wares preparatory for her club runs. She changes her dress and goes to club to return the following morning. It is a routine.
Whenever she needs anything, she remembers to stroll down to a nearby kiosk to buy, and does not forget to pay for the item which is packaged for her in a polythene bag and then she quietly strolls back.
She probably is not mad was a debate among neighbours of the suspected mentally unstable woman.
The debate caught the attention of this reporter who was passing by and stopped to listen to the group of five, comprising three men and two women arguing over the mental status of the woman. ‘She can’t really be mad’, one of them said. ’No. She is a mad woman’, another responded. ‘What kind of mad woman would go clubbing every night and return the following morning?’.
Prostitution in Abuja is a business that has been redefined and made more sophisticated; with practitioners adapting to the times and deploying all that information, communication and technology can offer to boost their trade. But the induction of mad women into the business if this is what Maria goes to the club to do will be a mystery.
Commercial sex workers in Abuja, like their counterparts in Maitama, Garki and other towns in the Federal Capital City, FCT, have embraced new techniques to optimize their business.
This reporter learnt that some prostitutes have transformed commercial sex from street hawking to home service via social media. Some of them use social media platforms like Badoo and Blackberry Messenger, BBM, where they display their pictures, phone numbers and ‘call me’ signs printed at the top of the pictures.
A young man, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard but preferred not to have his name mentioned, identified some low-end spots in Kubwa where patrons consisting of low-income earners such as artisans, minimum wage earners, transport workers, welders, car wash boys etc, hang out. A popular lounge in Arab Road operates special packages for the girls who run their business from there – protection money is allegedly paid to the police on their behalf, they also get quick and profitable connections there. The teeming population of girls on the prowl for business at the popular joints proved this reporter’s assertion right.
More astounding is the routine of Maria who, though is suspected to be mad, is believed to be into prostitution. Once she closes and packs her wares, dresses to her taste and makes her hair within the limits of her sanity, she is hot and good to go for the evening.
Maria religiously carried out her routine for five days that Sunday Vanguard observed her.
Toothless bulldog fights back
The large population of girls still into prostitution in the FCT showed that it remains a big problem. A report on the website of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, indicates that some N150 million was budgeted for the evacuation and rehabilitation of apprehended prostitutes in 2013. However, in the budget eventually approved by the National Assembly for the FCT, a total of N5 million was earmarked for the purpose.
FCTA had, in 2011, launched what it called total war against prostitution. Adopting a catchy slogan ‘Zero tolerance for prostitution’ and armed with Section 35 Sub section 1 of the Abuja Environment Protection Board, AEPB, Act of 1997 which makes it unlawful for anyone to engage in or patronize commercial sex industry, city officials swung into action with a simple plan – to prowl the streets at night, identify prostitutes at work, apprehend them and rehabilitate them.
According to the plan, the AEPB would be in charge of ridding the city of prostitutes while the Social Development Secretarial would see to their rehabilitation.
To implement the plan, two training and rehabilitation camps were set up in Lugbe and Bwari areas of the FCT. It sounded brilliant at first – many prostitutes were arrested, buses were filled and the Rehabilitation Centre in Sabon, Lugbe had fresh intakes.
The lies within
The FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, recently, realized the height of the degeneration in the FCT and the lies of those he so appointed to be his third eye.
Just one outing, the Minister concluded that he had been fed with lies. ”Some of the directors of the operational departments are being economical with the truth on the state of services to the residents of the FCT”, he said. ”We deviated a little from the way and manner we sit in the comfort of our operational room in FCTA and Council Chamber to receive information from our operational directors on the normal metropolitan management services especially environmental sanitation, water resource management and disposition, road traffic control management and enforcement as well as the issue of Keke NAPEP and street traders.
“I felt very disgusted as a leader of the administration of FCT, but of course we have problem and challenges of demography, we have problem of enforcement and it is unacceptable that FCT would become a safe haven for all those who think they can practice impunity, arrogance and serious disregard for our rules”
“You have seen it yourself, and also it shows the directors that all the information they have been giving me in files are lies because I am getting my information from what I saw on the street today and what operational security personnel have been telling me”.
Mohammed said he will not allow the capital city to degenerate any further.