By Sola Ogundipe & Evelyn Usman
LAGOS—FEAR has gripped commercial sex workers in Lagos, following reports that the 67-year-old Irish national, Mr. James Turner, accused by his 31-year-old Nigerian girlfriend of deliberately infecting her with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, was a frequent visitor to clubs.
In fact, some of them claimed to know some of the ladies the Irish national had picked at one time or the other.
It will be recalled that Mr. Turner, was dragged to the Ikeja Police Division last week, by his Benue State-born girlfriend, Helen, after he reneged on his promise to settle her with N2.5 million, after discovering that she had been infected.
Helen, who insisted that her lover of eight years deliberately infected her with the virus, told Vanguard that she stumbled on the anti-retroviral drugs Turner was secretly taking, four months after his status was confirmed.
She also claimed to have caught Turner pants down with one of her girlfriends in his apartment, after he was confirmed to be living with HIV.
Although Turner claimed Helen infected him with the virus, he, however, told policemen during interrogation that he had so far slept with about six ladies, especially commercial sex workers, since he was confirmed to be HIV positive.
Security sources, who are said to have details of the clubs visited, refused to reveal same to Vanguard.
Helen’s friend, too
Similarly, Helen’s girlfriend, who she claimed Mr. Turner slept with, is also living in fear. The lady (names withheld) was said to have been informed of the development through Vanguard’s publication yesterday.
She was said to have immediately visited an undisclosed hospital to confirm her status. But at press time, the result of the test could not be ascertained.
Police sources hinted that the lady could be invited in the course of the ongoing investigation.
However, Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmus, told Vanguard yesterday that the command was still awaiting expert opinion to conclude the charge against the suspect.
An expert’s opinion
Reacting to the incident, a Criminal Justice Psychologist and Intimacy/Sexuality Strategist, Dr. Princess Olufemi-Kayode, said both Turner and Helen have questions to answer over the saga.
Olufemi-Kayode, who is Chief Executive Officer of Media Concern for Women and Children Initiative, Media Con, said: “If they have been dating for years, he knew his status, because he was on anti-retroviral drugs, but kept the information from her even though they were engaging in unsafe sex.
“It is obvious that the relationship is not just a fling; they were dating and he knew she would be infected. Both of them have their issues here. They have questionable backgrounds, but have been in a long-term relationship.
“It was her choice to be in the relationship, but the point is that he did not tell her. The fact that he hid his status is serious. It is the law that will determine the outcome, but I would just say he should get a good lawyer, because it is a criminal matter.”
Admonishing the public to learn from the development, Olufemi-Kayode said people should endeavour to know their HIV status.
For married couples and those in sexual relationships, she stated: “If as a man, you are infected with HIV, your spouse should know and go through the same treatment.
If you are a woman, the same applies.
“What we are seeing here is just to emphasise what we have been saying all this time that HIV is real, but it is preventable and people should embrace HIV awareness. Be truthful, don’t be in denial. Know your status and practice safer sex. Have sex, but stay safe.”
In 2015, the Senate passed the Sexual Offenses Bill, which stipulates that anyone who deliberately infects another with HIV or any other life-threatening sexually-transmitted disease shall be guilty of the offense, whether he or she is married to the other, and shall be liable upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not less than 20 years, but which may be enhanced to imprisonment for life.