AEPB and an NGO are trying to rid Abuja of prostitutes. But innocent women are bearing the brunt as they are arbitrarily arrested and stigmatised.
An Abuja-based NGO, Society Against Prostitution and Child Labour in Nigeria (SAP-CLN), in collaboration with Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) have elected to embark on a controversial campaign to rid Nigeria’s capital city of prostitutes. But it seems the campaign is being waged on the wrong side of the law following allegations of abuses and highhandedness, which grossly violate the provisions of Nigeria’s Constitution.
Party Turned Sour
When the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) posted Bimbo Ojo to Abuja, it was a dream come true. But not long after she arrived, she found that the city offered more than the bargain. While thousands of prospective corps members force their way to be posted to the “bling” city, hers came on a platter.
Abuja has an extraordinary allure especially for young Nigerians. Driven by radical ideas like those of former FCT Minister, Nasir El-Rufai, who in his controversial book, “Accidental Public Servant,” posited that “rural development is an oxymoron,” because “ultimately, everyone in the world will live in cities… we should all work … to get everyone to move to cities,” young people tend to have lost patience for the tortoise speed at which development has been trickling to the countryside. The result has been an unprecedented rural-urban drift. So Ms. Ojo and other young Nigerians believe that Abuja is pregnant with limitless opportunities to transform their lives.
However, majority of young people who came to Abuja hoping to get a better life have found themselves clutching the ebbing shadows of their once beautiful dreams. Nigeria’s capital territory does not seem to have room for the struggling people, artisans and even the low-level white and blue-collar workers. After all, succeeding ministers of the capital city have not only said so but have also proved that beyond every reasonable doubt.
But Ms. Ojo and some of her friends were yet to experience the other side of the beautiful city until one fateful evening. Apparently trying to explore the luscious nightlife of Abuja, she had set out for a party with her friends. Indeed, they had plenty of fun while the party lasted but towards midnight, they decided to go home.
Just as they walked out of the club towards the road to board a taxi, two buses pulled up. Like a scene from a Hollywood movie, she said, armed soldiers and policemen jumped out, cocked their riffles, took them violently and threw them into the waiting buses.
“It was so sudden that I couldn’t believe what happened was real,” she said. “The armed security officials shoved us violently into the buses and the driver moved in a neck-break speed to an unknown destination. Nobody told us what we did wrong and we couldn’t ask for fear of being shot.”