Underage Prostitution Reigns in Abuja

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Mabus‎hi village is one of the slums within the Federal Capital Territory that has become a den of underage prostitution while those in authority look the other way. Adedayo Akinwale‎ writes ‎

When the idea of moving the Nigeria capital from Lagos to Abuja was conceived, majority of the teething problems experienced in Lagos, the then nation’s capital was put into consideration‎. Chief among these included: indigenisation problem and land ownership. The leaders want a nation’s capital where no tribe or man will lay claim to the land.

In the long run, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, was the preferred destination. To avoid the same problems that were encountered in Lagos, a plan was put in place to resettle and compensate the original inhabitants of the new federal capital. While some were compensated and moved out of the Federal Capital City (FCC) to the satellite towns in the FCT, some original inhabitants who are yet to be compensated and resettled are still living within the city, with the hope that the FCT administration will do the needful, but the paucity of funds has ensured the existence of some slums within the city, thus beclouding the beauty of the Nigerian federal capital.‎

Some of these slums within the FCT where the indigenes are yet to be resettled include; Durumi Village, Utako Village, Gwarimpa Village, Dutse, Galadimawa, Mabushi, Kpaduma, Apo, Wasa, Idu, Garki Village, among others.

However, while the government planned areas within the city centre ‎enjoy well laid out infrastructure and social amenities, the slums within the city are in inhumane condition, congested, invested with communicable diseases, den for criminals and other societal ills. Aside these, some unscrupulous elements are now leveraging on the condition of these slums to perpetrate their evil acts. Robbery is a natural occurrence in such slums that practically house those that cannot afford to rent apartment in places like Wuse, Garki‎, Wuse 2, Asokoro, Maitama and others.

Visit Mabushi, a village, which is directly at the back of the Federal Ministry of Power, ‎Works and Housing‎, ‎and Ministry of Environment. While Kabusa Village, a suburb of Abuja has been christened Soddom and Gomorah, due to moral decadence in the place; Mabushi Village is the den of underage sex workers.

‎Mabushi Village aside from the prostitutes den in the area, also houses a place called “Gida drama” which means “Drama House”. The drama house is operated by a man named Dan Yellow. Gida drama is an open place fenced up by corrugated iron sheet. Inside the ‎drama house, there is a wooden seat constructed round the drama stage in a stadium like manner, for the teeming audiences to sit on and feed their hands with the underage dancers cum prostitutes. Gida drama parades dancers who are mostly girls and between the ages of 15 and 18 years who dance to entertain the audiences. A sum of N100 is charged each person who wants to gain access to the drama house as gate fee. Though, the drama house has male dancers too. While the female dancers are up to 12 in number, the male dancers as observed by THISDAY are six in number and are between the ages of 18 and 20 years.

The dancers sometimes dance in pairs, a male and a female, sometimes three females and two females. While some are dancing, other female dancers move towards the wooden seat where the audiences are seated to woo a potential suitor for the night.

Another thing of note is that while the sale of alcohol is not permitted within the Gida drama, being a pure Hausa setting dominated by Muslims, the young female dancers smoke shamelessly and they woo their suitors effortlessly. ‎Inside the Gida drama, there are makeshift rooms about eight also.

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‎Everyday, activities at Gida drama start from after 8p.m. immediately after the last Muslims prayer for the day and end at 12 midnight. Though, a little bit of what to expect from the drama house is first displayed by 6p.m. before the show proper starts by 8p.m.

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An artisan, whose workshop is very close to Gida drama, Mr. Taofik Ademola who was initially afraid to talk because he does not want anything that will disrupt his business said; ‎”Dan Yellow is the owner of the place. He has been arrested a couple of times but later got released by the authority due to his influence. There was a time his matter was taken to Hembelenbe, a popular talk show radio programme in Abuja. ‎He was arrested because he was accused of using the young girls as prostitutes, gives them away to men, collects money and gives them part of the money as their own share.‎

“Initially, he used sack to fence up the place. He was even banned before but he was later allowed to continue. The show usually starts from 8p.m., after the Ishai prayer till 12 midnight‎. Anybody is allowed to enter the place. Police and even men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squard (SARS‎) have raided the place several times. The last time the place was raided, the spectators had to run to different direction. The following day, when we came to the workshop, we saw many slippers, sandals and even shoes because most of them had to jump the fence to evade arrest.

“Most times when the Hausa boys in the area steal, they use the place as hideout. There was a day when one of them stole‎, his accomplice when arrested by the police told the police that the guy was at the bus stop doing ‘Agbero work’, that was where he was arrested.”‎

Though, Ademola was unable to confirm if the owner uses underage girls as prostitutes, but THISDAY was ‎able to confirm that while underage prostitutes operate there, criminals also use the place as hideout. He said while the police are making frantic effort to bring crime rates in Mabushi Village under control, there are still pockets of robbery cases going on in the area.

“There was a time I brought a tokumbo vehicle to Abuja and I parked it at the Mabushi Police Station to ensure its safety. The vehicle was burgled even inside the police station, and my things stolen, including my driver’s licence. The culprit was later arrested by the police before the police discovered that their own things were stolen too,” he added.‎

‎Another resident of the place, Solomon John, believed that poverty and drug abuse are the two major causes of the young girls going into prostitution at that tender age.

His words: “Gida drama is not a good place to be but the reason why all these young girls are going to that place is because of the high rate of poverty in the country. Though, they are very young to go to that place because it has a negative impact on the young girls. What they are doing there is prostitution, they give out their bodies to all those big men. I have been to that place, the actual ages I think that are supposed to be in that place is 17 ‎and 18 years. I believe the girls have a poor background and that is why they are doing all this.

The Chief of Mabushi is aware of Gida drama‎, but I don’t think he has taken any action against that place because this place is ‘mind your own business’. What makes the girls to do what they do is because they are into drugs, and I’m very sure of that because I have seen them taking drugs.”

Meanwhile, another resident of the area, Juliet Itohan, who is well over 20 years of age painted a different scenario of Gida drama. She said the place was operated by two men before, but one later left. She added that the place has been in operation even before she was born.

‎She said; “it has been long that Gida drama has been in operation, even before I was even born. This same man (Dan Yellow) has been operating the place. Though, they were two before but one has left. It is like they are settling the police because the police station is very close to the place. T‎he Alhajis come with cars to take the girls. What the girls are doing is not good but that is where they get their income from, they are being paid there.‎”

THISDAY in a chat with two of the dancers who identified themselves as Sadiat and Fatima said they have to register with a sum of N500 everyday before they would be allowed to dance at Gida drama but they refused to give further details on how they make their money.

‎Sadiat noted:”‎Dancing on the stage is not free because we will have to pay N500 for registration before we could be allowed to dance.‎ Don’t worry about how I make my money.”

When asked to give their contact, both claim their phones got missing and stressed that whoever wants to see them will have to come to Gida drama.

Meanwhile, all efforts by THISDAY to speak with the Chief of Mabushi proved abortive as he was not around on two occasions when his palace was visited. ‎