About 54 prostitutes and 56 patronisers were on Tuesday apprehended when a team of Nigerian police officers raided Peace Garden Hotel popularly called `Flower Mill’ in Calabar, Cross Rivers State Capital.
The police crackdown was led by Mr Jude Ngaji, the State Security Adviser to the state Governor, Ben Ayade, as part of the bid to rid the capital city of commercial sex trade.
Addressing newsmen after the raid which lasted almost four hours, Ngaji claimed the hotel clampdown was undertaken because it had turned into a brothel for commercial sex workers as well as sanctuary for people perpetrating criminal activities such as selling of drugs and armed robbery.
“Each time you pass here at night, you find under-age girls of about 13 years and 14 years standing by and waiting for men. This place has become a `Sodom and Gomorrah’ in Cross River and the raid was carried out to stop prostitution and criminality in the state.
Ngaji dismissed possibilities of innocent people being caught in the crackdown that produced 11 truck-load of suspects reportedly taken to the Police Area Command in Calabar.
“All the girls that were caught here are prostitutes and some of them were caught in a compromising position”, he argued.
“There is no law that legalises prostitution in Nigeria. The girls will be tried in court and we will ensure that they are returned back to their respective states,” he added, stressing that the state government is determined to stamp out such illegal activities in the capital.
“Given the tourism status of Cross River, Governor Ayade frowns at this despicable act where under-age girls are engaged in prostitution. He has, therefore, vowed to take drastic and decisive measure to stem the ugly trend.
Ngaji disclosed further that the state government will raid and shut down any premises found to be engaging in similar businesses.
“The governor has warned that other persons or groups involved in this unwholesome practice should, in their own interest, desist henceforth, or face the wrath of the law’’, he said.
According to him, the Office of the State Security Adviser, in collaboration with security agents, are working to ensure that criminals and prostitutes are shown the way out of the state. He further advised teenage girls to take their studies seriously and engage in meaningful activities, rather than choosing the path of prostitution as a means of livelihood.
By: Olisemeka Obeche (with Agency reports)