A four man gang responsible for running an underage prostitution ring in the Iyan-Ipaja area of Lagos have been smashed by men of the Lagos State Police Command.
The suspects, Thomas Emmanuel and Okon John, Monica Ita and Bright Effiong operated a hotel known as Collabor Hotel located at No. 3 Ige Street, Iyana-Ipaja.
It was gathered that the suspects specialized in recruiting young teenage girls from villages, bring them to the said hotel where they worked as commercial sex workers.
Parading the suspects before journalists on Tuesday at the State Police Headquarters in Ikeja, Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal revealed that the suspects were arrested based on intelligence which led to the arrest of four others.
He said, “Based on intelligence, a team of policemen from the command and Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) Operatives stormed the hotel on March 10th and arrested one Glory Asuquo, age 15 years and she confessed that she was brought to the said address some weeks ago and handed over to one Monica Ita, 25years.
“This led to the arrest of other underage girls, namely Destiny Ota, 19years and Bright Effiong 18years. Meanwhile, the coordinators of the prostitution ring were also arrested. ”
One of the victims, Asuquo said, “my sister carried me from calabar to sell drinks for one Monica Ita. I was selling the drinks for her at her shop and then we would go to her hotel in the night.
That was how she said we would ‘hustle’, so different men will come and sleep with us and pay aunty Monica.”
Another suspect, Bassey was more defiant in her defense as she stated that she did not commit any crime as all she is doing is ‘hustle’.
She denied the age claim of the police report and insisted that she was 28 years and had a legal right to hustle and do whatever she wanted with her body.
She described their mode of operation as a mutual agreement between the hotel management and the girls.
According to her, “I got into the business four months ago and has no regrets whatsoever. I had a permanent room in the hotel where men visit me every night for a token of N1,000 and I usually had at least three men per night.
Effiong who is the youngest of the gang confirmed Bassey’s story but denied involvement with underage girls.
She said, ” To the best of my Knowledge, we have not scouted for young girls or gone after children for our personal gains. When girls needed help to make money to fend for themselves, they have no choice but to ‘hustle’ and prostitution was just like any other means.”
It was also gathered that the girls were brought in by Ita, who used the guise of help to lure the underage children into prostitution.
Another suspect, 29 year old Thompson Emmanuel, who managed the hotel along with 34 year old Okon John, told newsmen that they usually let rooms out to girls who in turn brought in customers who paid for the rooms.
Emmanuel said, ” the girls helped the hotel stay afloat so we had no reason to meddle in their business.”
Edgal said the suspects would be charged with conspiracy, Human Trafficking and prostitution upon completion of investigation, while the underage girls would be handed over to partner organizations for necessary rehabilitation.
The State commissioner used the medium to urge Lagosians to pay close attention to their wards and those they entrust them to.