The popular claim by the police in Nigeria that they are friends of the people has been confirmed by commercial sex workers at a brothel around the Railway Police Station, Agege area of Lagos state, Southwest Nigeria.
The brothel, which is just a name to cover up the sex-for-money business that takes place in the old one-storey building, parades pretty women between 25 and 35 years old who said they offer sex and money to policemen so that they could remain in the world’s oldest profession. The brothel, it was learnt, has been in existence for several years without any disturbance from its neighbouring Railway Police divisional headquarters as well as two churches, one located directly behind it and the other located two houses away from it.
Parading 19 ladies of different sizes and shapes, some of the prostitutes confessed that the rapport between them and policemen force has remained very cordial. "I’ve been doing ashawo (prostitution) business here for over three years now and I can tell you as a customer not to fear because the police will never come here to harass anybody. They know what we do here and also know how we operate. In fact, they are our best friends here," one of the commercial sex workers, a Benin girl who refused to mention her name, said.
Another prostitute in the brothel told said that to keep the relationship between the brothel and the police "in good shape", they cough out N3,000 monthly to bribe law enforcement agents. "Whenever you see the police here, it is either they are here to drink or to collect their "settlement" or even to have a feel of us which we willingly give to them free of charge as we have agreed among ourselves."
While confirming what her colleagues had said earlier, another commercial sex worker in the brothel explained that apart from visiting at the end of every month to collect their bribe, the police officers had become more of a shield for them. "Whenever them come here, we dey give them do for free except say them no wan do. We know say na one of the ways to keep the relationship be that. If we no allow them and them come vex, you know say business no go move again be that," she said in pidgin English. She confirmed that these "friends" of theirs come from the different police stations around them.
"As we are here drinking now, they can come, but they won’t harass anybody. If it is sex they want, we give, if it is money, we give since the understanding is there," another sex worker explained. To keep business running, each of the 19 prostitutes pay a monthly fee of N6,000 as rent for the dingy rooms where patrons sleep with them. They said even though each of them cough out this N6,000 monthly, they make far more than that amount in a week. For them, business begins from 7.30 p.m. when it is getting dark and patrons could hide under the cover of darkness to visit and satisfy their sexual urge. Starting from this period, each of the ladies "dresses to kill" with very skimpy dresses that barely cover their breasts and buttocks apparently to attract customers.
"The fee is not fixed and it depends on the impression we have of a customer. We can ask for between N800 and N1,500 for a round of sex. For guys who don’t release on time, we ask them to add a little extra to whatever they have paid," one of the prostitutes explained. A police officer at the Pen Cinema Police Station, who preferred to speak anonymously, confirmed that they know that the brothel exists. Denying that his colleagues get bribe to look the other way, he explained that the prostitutes have not done anything to warrant arrest. "They operate in that place like a hotel and they are big girls. Did you see any under-aged prostitute in that place? They also don’t allow small boys in there. So why should we suddenly become overzealous for selfish reasons?" he asked.
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