By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The recently-rescued underage girls used as sex slaves in Anambra State have said that the people who forced them into prostitution in the state charmed them from their home state, Ebonyi, after they had earlier declined to come to Anambra for the salesgirl jobs promised them by the people.
The victims revealed this while recounting their ordeals and experiences in the hands of their ‘abductors’ after they were rescued through the joint efforts of the Anambra State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, and the operatives of the Anambra State Police Command.
It would be recalled that some underage girls and others (aged between 15-23) were rescued on Tuesday, when police operatives and the staff of the Women Affairs Ministry bursted a brothel, Happiness Guest Inn, Amawbia, in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State, where the girls were being used as sex slaves. It was gathered that the raid was done following a tipoff from a whistleblower.
When interviewed, the underage girls, who are all indigenes of Ebonyi State, said one Ifeoma and Chika brought them to Awka with a promise to offer them salesgirl jobs, only for them to be forced into prostitution against their expectations and wishes.
They recalled that they earlier rejected the job offers when the people first approached them, on the ground that they didn’t want to go as far as to Anambra State for salesgirl job.
They, however, said the people left only to return later and suspectedly charm them, such that they could no longer say no to whatever request they made of them and everything they told them.
“Because it was already late for us to travel to Anambra that day, they took us to their house to spend the night there. At that point we could no longer understand what we were doing. Our people were calling us; but the people told us not to pick the calls. They also seized our phones and switched them off. Then, the following day, we left for Anambra State.
“When they brought us to Anambra, they handed us over to one woman, called Ezenwaanyị, after having seized all our belongings,” one of them narrated.
They said it was before that time that they gradually began to regain their consciousness and began to wonder how they got there and what they were doing there. They said they started requesting to be allowed to go back to their state. The request, according to them, was turned down, as they were even threatened; while the Ezenwaanyị told them that they would go back only if they paid her ₦150,000 or served her for a period of one year through prostitution.
“This was how we were forced into prostitution here,” one of the girls added.
When asked how much they were making daily at the brothel, the girls said their Madam mandated them to pay her between ₦10,000 to ₦15,000 every night, and ₦40,000 every Sunday, whereas customers usually paid them ₦1,000 or above per ‘round’ of their service. They said that this usually caused issues between them and their Madam, as she would always punish them each day any of them didn’t make up to the amount expected of her. They said even when customers gave them cash gifts (dash them money), they would always add it to make up the one they would pay their Madam, to avoid incurring her anger.
The girls said they had always longed to go back to their parents and had even cried several times why requesting for that, but all to no avail, as their Madam insisted that they were going nowhere. They said she also always monitored and kept close eyes on them and even listened to their conversations with customers, to be sure they didn’t share or discuss their predicament with anyone.
On how they were finally rescued, the girls said one of them smartly used a whistleblower’s phone to get across to their family, while the whistleblower, in turn, notified the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, who, with the help of the police, bursted the brothel and rescued them.
Speaking on the development, the State Commissioner for Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Hon. Obinabo restated the state government’s resolve to end all forms of child kidnap, trafficking and sexual slavery in the State.
She warned hotel owners to desist from defiling using underage girls to run their hotel businesses or be prepared to face the full weight of the law.
While noting that the case had already received Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s attention, the Commissioner further assured that it would not be treated with levity.
It was gathered that the Commissioner had also contacted the family members of the underage girls and also taken them to hospital for medical examination and possible treatment.
According to the Spokesperson of the Anambra State Police Command, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu, the case has also already been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for more detailed investigation and prosecution of the culprits.
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