Plateau black spots where prostitution, child trafficking thrive
As Police Raid Spot By Marie-Therese Nanlong, Jos
The times are tough. But man must eat! That appears to be the operational credo of some people in the country today, given the hardship that has gripped the majority of Nigerians and thrown no fewer than 133 million into multidimensional poverty.
While many men have been pushed into illicit trade to make ends meet, women of easy virtue, have also taken to taking themselves to certain locations in Jos, the Plateau State capital, in order to eke out a living. These women can be largely found in a location popularly known as ‘West of Mines’, a popular area in Jos North Local Government Council. They dominate and rule the area, attracting male customers for their survival.
In ‘West of Mines’, legitimate businesses thrive alongside prostitution. As the menace at West of Mines is being tolerated, another prostitution centre springs up at ‘Goronto’, located in the Bukuru area of Jos South LGA of Plateau State, providing comfort to women and men of the night.
Goronto houses young, recalcitrant girls as well as women who care less about what kind of trade they engage in. Apart from prostitution, it is alleged that young girls also engage in trading of babies borne out of their illicit sex activities.
On Monday, a 19-year-old resident of Goronto, Abigail Emmanuel, a primary six dropout, narrated how she was misled into giving out her second child to some people she did not know in Abuja.
She told Arewa Voice that after her arrest during a raid on Goronto, she was chased out of Goronto with her pregnancy because pregnancy is not accepted in Goronto.
Her words: “I have a child that I left at home with my father and relocated to Goronto to engage in prostitution in order to earn some money. I was later chased out because I was pregnant; so I went to Kungya. I was just walking about when I met a woman who stopped me and asked about the pregnancy and who impregnated me.
I told her that I did not know the person. She then told me that one of her sisters, named Rose, would help me if I go to her in Abuja to give birth. After I delivered there, the woman took me to a brothel where I was staying because she did not want me to come back to the house. I continued to engage in prostitution until I generated enough transportation money to come back to Jos.
When I arrived in Jos, I went back to Goronto, but I was arrested when the police raided the place. It was then that I told them what happened to me, and the woman who sent me to Abuja was traced and arrested at Gyel. She is the one who gave me the transportation to go to Abuja where I gave birth. I did not give birth in the hospital but at a pharmacy. She sent me to her sister, but her sister in turn referred me to another madam. I was told to return to Jos after giving birth and to lie to people that my baby had died after the delivery. I had never been to Abuja until she sent me there.”
Simi Nanle, 30, a mother of three, who is accused of facilitating Abigail’s movement to Abuja, said she knew the young mother from her sister, who introduced her as someone in desperate need of food and shelter after her father drove them from their home.
Nanle said: “Abigail used to go with my sister to sell kunu, and she asked me to help her since she did not know who impregnated her. I told her about my sister in Abuja, gave her the transportation fare to go and meet my sister, and promised to help her when she is in labour.”
On how she got to know Abigail, she explained: “We were in the same area at Angwan Ganye when she was pregnant with her first child.”
Yet, Nyazi Patrick, who introduced Abigail to Simi, said: “I met her one morning sleeping in front of my shop. When we woke her up, we saw that she was pregnant, and she said she slept in the shop because they chased her out of Goronto.
“I asked if she had no family, and she said her family had sent her away and she had nowhere to go. She stayed with me for some time and was helping me with my chores. “I told her to go home and plead with her parents, but she left and went to stay with my sister, from where she travelled to Abuja.”
However, as prostitution and human trafficking appear to be combining to dent the image of the Goronto community, many of the natives have spoken out against the illicit trades and alerted the police to keep a routine watch over the place.
“This community is fast becoming a threatened place due to the negative activities of some elements that are creating serious problems for everyone here. That is why the community assisted the police in catching the perpetrators of the act, who are from Gyel, so that they would not dent the image of our community. The child they sold is from here, the menace of Goronto is affecting all of us.”
The Chairperson of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, Nene Dung, also condemned the illicit activities going on in the area.
Dung told Arewa Voice: “This matter is of great concern because everyone involved is a woman, from the young girl who got pregnant not knowing who is responsible to the people who introduced her to selling the baby in Abuja. I think it is a syndicate, and there may be more women involved in this crime. The earlier we stopped them, the better. But we can’t stop them if we don’t expose them and their acts. This is something happening in the community; members are aware. It was rumoured that in Gyel, there are people who are agents who sell babies that they don’t want.
“I am, therefore, calling on all relevant agencies to network and fish out those housing the young girls so that their babies can be sold. Over all, the onus lies on the government to pull down such illicit and inhuman structures because they are jeopardising the future of our teenagers.”