*As Lagos clamps down on strip clubs
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The action was long awaited. So, when 33 strip dancers were arrested at the weekend in Lagos, the move was applauded in many quarters.
Those arrested are soon to face prosecution for immoral behaviour as the case has been transferred to the state Ministry of Justice for appropriate action.
The action is coming months afterÂ a special security outfit of the Lagos State Police Command embarked on massive arrest ofÂ indecently dressed females on the allegation that they were promoting obscenity in the society. But due to serious criticism from different quarters, the Police discontinued the arrest.
In the wake of the public outcry and furore the action generated, the state government hadÂ come out publicly to denounce any involvement, saying there was no such directive from it.
But in what seemed to be a renewed onslaught against growing immoral and indecent behaviour in the state,Â the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Monitoring Unit led by its Chairman, Mr. Bayo Sulaimon last SaturdayÂ stormed about four strip clubs within Ikeja and environs and arrested 33 naked dancers and two of the clubsâ€™ managers.
According Sulaimon, all the 33 arrested nudists and the managers have been released on bail and would be called upon subsequently by the state Ministry of Justice when the need arises.
The names of the affected nude clubs were given as Club Unique, Wallstreet, Cazzbah and Magic City formerly known as Ocean Blue. Club Unique is on Ogundana Street off Allen Avenue while Wallstreet is located at 70B Allen Avenue. Magic City, formerly called Ocean Blue, is located adjacent to Sweet Sensation Eatery Bus-Stop and Cazzbah opposite Opebi Bus-Stop.
Sequel to the raid, officials of a surveillance and monitoring team were said to have visited the clubs disguised as patrons. They monitored the clubsâ€™ activities for a night before raiding them in the early hours of the following day.
Sulaiman, in a telephone chat on Monday confirmed that the state government shut the clubs as a result of public outcry over their existence. He added that most of the clubs had become hideouts for criminals and undesirable elements, stressing that the strip clubs were not registered and were not regulated by the state government.
Sulaimon disclosed that the recent action became necessary immediately a report ofÂ the activities of the nude clubs was published. TheÂ Archbishop of the Lagos Diocese, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, particularly condemned their existence,Â saying that evil has completely taken over Lagos and called on Governor Babatunde Fashola to act immediately in order to arrest the trend by shutting them down.
â€œEvil has taken over in Lagos State. The way things are going, when girls of between the ages of 15 and 25 dance nude and throw caution to the wind with boys and men watching them, then they are sending a wrong signal to the society. It portends danger.
We are sitting on a loaded gun,â€ said Okogie, in a statement signed by the Director of Social Communications, Lagos, Reverend Gabriel Osu.
Okogie called on Gov. Fashola to act now because the strip clubs keep increasing in number, while those shut earlier had re-opened under new names. â€œI hope this is not making mockery of Lagos as a mega-city, Centre of Excellence and City of Aquatic Splendour ,â€ he said.
While a few Lagosians called on government not to shut the strip clubs but simply regulate them as adult fun exists in all mega cities, most people, however, kicked against their existence and simply called on Gov. Fashola to close them down forthwith.
Vanguard Metro learnt that the arrest of strip dancers was dramatic as they did not expect the taskforce to visit them in the night. A 24-year Ghanaian lady,Traore Anida, who was among the strippers arrested, said she started the job a month ago because she was desperately in need of money to go back to her country.
She said that she was brought to Nigeria by a woman whom she said is based in the Republic of Benin .Â â€œI need money to go back to my country and there is no other work I can do to get the money fast. That is why I joined the job,â€ Anida informed.
Emma Ofor, manager of Club Unique who was arrested along with the 33 strippers, said that he joined the club in January this year, adding that poverty made him to accept the offer. Offor said that he could not reject the offer as he was in desperate need of a job. â€œThat is the circumstance I found myself and it is because of my situation. I was desperately in need of job when the offer came and I just had to accept it,â€ he said.
Goddy Benjamin, manager of Wall Street Club who was also arrested along with the strippers denied that ladies go naked in the clubs to entertain patrons.
But in earlier visits by Vanguard Metro to some of the club houses, young girls were seen dancing stark naked to entertain guests at Wallstreet. Sometimes the club patrons go as far as stuffing naira notes into the private part of the dancers who sometimes wear G-string.
Benjamin stated that the activities at the club are regulated and that the club obtained a license from the local government for its operation. â€œLadies in my club do not go naked. They do not dance naked. They always cover their body, they are just like other models and nobody harasses them. My ladies do not dance naked,â€ Benjamin restated.