Other sectors may have lost their boom time to global recession, but one that has not failed to thrive above all odds is sex trade, especially in Lagos, a sprawling metropolis of about 20 million people. Even the clamp down on the goddesses of the night by the Babatunde Fashola-led government in his first term in office has by no means curbed their determination. Lanre Odukoya writes
For many years, Allen Avenue and Opebi route in the state’s capital, Ikeja used to be a sure base for the sex hawkers who trade their wares from dusk till dusk. But a paradigm shift seems to have beckoned sooner than expected. The call girls have made a detour. In the recent past, a safer haven, the Government Reserved Area, Ikeja seems to have caught their fancy above other locations. And here, you are sure to catch spotlessly gorgeous maidens for a sum between N5, 000 and N10, 000 depending on time and your negotiating power. On a damp Tuesday evening, our reporter hit the red light zone to observe them do their business
Just the other day on Allen Avenue
You may miss the glimpse of anything on Allen Avenue, a huge commercial district in Ikeja at night, but definitely not that of the lewdly dressed and daring girls on the high street. Here, used to be the place where with your heart, believe and mouth, confessions are made. It used cost between N1, 000 and N2, 000 depending on how you’re sized, sex time, location and bargaining power. However, all that has gone into the trash bin of history as the jet age arrives. In recent times, the trade has assumed new dimensions. While driving up the route, whether or not you beckon on a girl, particularly on Wednesdays and Fridays, they’ll move towards you themselves.
Sex in the comfort of your car
It’s easy for the girls to decipher if you’re a first timer. Your approach might give you away almost effortlessly. Once one is invited into the car, the smart guys request to see what they want to put their cash on. This includes weighing of the boobs down to the other regions of the body among other lecherous touches. For quick sex, it is put at between N2, 000 and N3, 000. In no time, sex is completed and the girl gets paid and returns to the street for business.
It takes a bit more to have a quick sex in a rented place. For a place like Peka on Allen Avenue, the roll call of regular girls make the spot arguably the most patronised. And the management of Peka Hotel has since stopped lodging for quick sex.’ The lodging fee for air- conditioned room here is now N7, 000. And the girl bargains between N8, 000 and N6, 000 for a night stand. The patron enjoys the privilege of swapping girls intermittently depending on his virility. Drinks here are relatively inexpensive perhaps because it’s just a regular open arena for fun seekers and night revelers. So, some of the girls request a bottle of liquor or two before conseting.
Same cannot be said of Page Night Club, which is to most young chaps what a honeycomb is to the bees. At Page, drinks cost a bit more because of the considerable security provided and the fact that it is a club, not a regular bar like the former. Assorted liquors, wines, whisky, champagne of choice brands are in high demand here by guys who are mostly in the quick moneymaking deals. It’s a different ball game in Page where guys outspend one another just to impress the girls who are in for a swell time as well. What Page lacks in lodging facility, it makes up for in service and considerable elegance.
Girls here are mostly brought in by spiffs for a nice time together. But there’s no lodging facility. Options left is either to take the girls home or drive a bit distant from the premises. Other clubs on this axis except The Nite Shift Coliseum, which has retained its allure and class over a few decades, have dissimilar service type.
The police story
The volatility of any milieu where this kind of trade thrives informs the presence security agents. Expectedly, men of the Nigerian Police are on patrol across this area throughout the night. They make casual arrest and when the suspects are found innocent, they get freed and may not have to have taken to the station. A number of times, extortion by the men of the Nigerian Police Force had been alleged, particularly at the Toyin street/Allen Avenue junction where Peka Hotel is situated and patrol vehicles mostly parked. Guys and girls alike stay on the alert to avoid embarrassment from the cops here.
A policeman who prefers anonymity reacted to the allegation: “don’t mind them, why should we extort money from them? Tell any of these girls or boys to point out an officer that collected N5 from them once. It is because we curb their excesses being youths. We accost some of them if we suspect something fishy and after interrogating them, if we find out their mission here is just to have fun, we are humans too, we don’t even try to harass or detain them. Why we sometimes hold the girls is because most of them don’t comport themselves well. They can be set as traps to these vulnerable boys for ritual or robbery” When we approached the new Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, the lady who just assumed office on June 11 said; “I cannot tell you what I haven’t seen. I will not be able to give you accurate information on this.”
A close communion with these girls will avail you ample knowledge of the dynamics of what they do. The story of Clara, a 23-year-old girl from Delta,might make you shed some tears: “The police harass us sometimes to collect the little money we just made. We run from the streets when we see them because it is the money they will collect from you. Everybody doing this job knows it is not good, we have searched for job and nobody is ready to give anything reasonable.
“Everybody wants to use you and give you something that cannot even pay your bills let alone feed you. We don’t want to continue if we find a better means to survive. As you are asking me questions now, if I say give me a job, will you? Everybody condemns what we do but who is ready to help? Do you think it is easy to put up with seven men before daybreak? The Police make matters worse, after delaying you; some of them will still collect your money and have sex with you. Heartless people!”
The infiltration of the GRA
The sanctity of the Government Reserved Area in Ikeja is being defiled by the passing days. The street teems with more commercial outlets than any other place. So, the grace and piety of the GRA has since been in doubt. The ripple than effect of commercialising the area is the influx of nightclubs as well as bars and lounges into the hitherto serene environment. The presence of strip club like The Cave on Joel Ogunnaike street, former La Cachet, now Rumours said to be co-owned by Hip Pop singer, Innocent Idibia and run by former manager, Dotun, Mango Lounge and Bar, former Sandra Place, now Bar Continental, Metro Park and others have exposed the area to some security risk.
Most of the girls who claim to be adding class to their business, queue from the first house on Isaac John to Metro Park to find rich patrons. Their charges are a bit higher than the ones on Allen Avenue and its environs. They charge between N7, 000 and N15,000. And in the event that there’s nowhere to lodge or the patron cannot afford to lodge, the security guards in some offices in the neighbourhood are tipped to use the office for quick one. With a popular events centre, The Place almost winding up business, we gathered reliably that another occupant is considering leasehold of the place for same business
The residents’ angle
What the development may have brought to the table can be examined in different perspectives. To Mr. Jude, a landlord in GRA:“that businesses are thriving around here during the day is nothing to condemn, but the operations at night, the remote noise, loitering on the streets and occasional fights here and there pose a threat to security. The fact that they keep the environment lively during the day is something one cannot but appreciate. The only concern is if the gripping fear this situation is beginning to create. This is a reserved area, which as a matter of fact should not be made accessible for some sorts of businesses but we have found that even taxes are paid on the unwanted businesses. We hope that this area won’t be taken over by hoodlums someday. Some people have private guards in their individual houses, but not everyone does.”