Fifty-nine commercial sex workers have been arrested by the Department of State Security in Calabar, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Mr Ilupeju Adebayo, Director of the DSS Command in Cross River State, who disclosed this to newsmen on Saturday in Calabar, said those arrested were picked up around 2:15 a.m on Saturday.
Those arrested, made up of 43 girls and 16 men, were picked up at the Peace Garden Hotel and Papsi Place, located along the Murtala Mohammed highway in Calabar.
Adebayo revealed that there was a cartel responsible for luring the girls and making them swear to an oath of secrecy.
The oath involves a promise not to abscond no matter what or divulge information about the business.
“We got an intelligence report and swung into action. We have been on the matter for months. We discovered that the girls are mostly underage, mostly between the ages of 13, 15, and 19 years.
“We also know that they were brought in by a cartel, deeply involved in the business of trafficking and using the girls as commercial sex workers.
“The girls then bring returns to them at the beginning or close of the week, depending on their modus operandi.
“We have made some arrests including that of the owner of Papsi Place, a brothel that houses mostly underage girls who pay him N2,000 on weekdays and N4,000 at weekends as lodging fees.
“They operate from the hotel to clubs where we arrested them stark naked.
“We have contacted the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), while investigations are ongoing until all those involved in the illicit trade are arrested and charged to court,’’ he said.
While speaking to journalists, Adaeze Abam, one of the 43 girls, said she was brought to Calabar from Rivers under the guise of being given a sales girl job.
Abam, however, said she ended up becoming a commercial sex worker.
“I was brought to Calabar through a friend who told me that I will be given a job as a sales girl. She took me to a lady who I only know her name as Aunty Favour.
“They took me to a brothel at Atamu Street, Calabar South, from where I used to attend night clubs.
“I ran away and then they traced me and brought me back. They wanted to force me to take an oath but I objected and absconded again to meet my friend whom I came with to Calabar then.
“Aunty Favour came there with the boyfriend and some cult boys and beat me up, and told me that if I ran again they will kill me or I will die.
“So, I usually go to her house to make returns to her every week. But I am not happy with the kind of work I am doing.
“It was never my intention to do this because my friend did not tell me that it was this kind of job,’’ she lamented.
Mr Edem John, one of the 16 men in custody and owner of Papsi Place, denied any wrongdoing.
He claimed that he had been warning the underage girls not to come to his place for commercial sex.
John, however, added that because of the trying times, he had no choice but to be involved in the business.
“I have been doing this business for about two years. They pay me N2,000 for the accommodation where they have sex with men.
“Although I have been warning the underage ones to stay away from my place, they still come back, and I need to do my business because I have a family to feed,’’ he said.