…they always ask for more

“I sleep with not less than 15 men a day because they love my services and always ask for more. I make between N20,000 and N15,000 per night for my madam. With the rate I was moving, I knew I wouldn’t spend six months before I regained my freedom.”

These were the shocking words of 20-year-old Nancy Azubuike, a prostitute in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. She was among six girls recently rescued by operatives of the Inspector General of Police’s (IGP), Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT). The girls were locked up inside an apartment by their exploiters. When the door of the apartment was unlocked, six ladies; Blessing John, Chidinma Amakwe, Nancy Azubuike, Chiamaka Eze, Beauty Ndulue and Amarachi Chinedu were rescued. While narrating their experiences in sex slavery, the girls all sounded downcast, except for Azubuike.

She apparently didn’t wish to be rescued. According to her, she knew she was making good money and knew it was only a matter of time before she paid off her ‘debt’ to her madam, regains her freedom and becomes a madam of herself. Azubuike symbolised a lot of girls, whom officials of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), used to worry about.

These sets of girls had been brainwashed and could no longer understand that they were victims. Recollecting her journey into prostitution, Azubuike said: “I’m a secondary school dropout. Some months ago, I told my parents that I wanted to go to Abuja to learn a trade. Yes, I was told by my friend what we were coming to Abuja to do. What I didn’t understand was why they locked us in a room. I had to comply since it was part of the contract.”

Policemen tracked down the leader of the prostitution syndicate, Mrs. Ifeoma Chichi Daniel, who fled to Lagos after she learnt police had discovered her secret.

Collins Maduekwe, Daniel’s accomplice, was also arrested. According to the police, the role of Maduekwe in the syndicate was to ensure the girls had sex with every man willing to pay for their services.

A police source said: “Our men acted on a tip-off, given to them by a neighbour, Ruben Ibrahim. Ibrahim said that some people had been locked up inside the apartment for days. The attention of Ibrahim was arrested when the girls started fighting. People tried to enter the room, but discovered it was locked from the outside.

Ibrahim alerted the police. Shortly after they were rescued, the girls said they were tricked into coming to Abuja by Daniel for prostitution. Part of the agreement was that each of the girls would be paid the sum of N200, 000 every six months.”

Ibrahim, a caretaker of the apartment at Dutse Apo, Abuja, where the girls were imprisoned, said: “The owner of that apartment The rescued girlsis Daniel. She told me that she was moving out.

She said her aunt would however occupy the apartment. I didn’t see the aunt till neighbours drew my attention to fact that some girls were kept in that room and that someone used to bring food to them through the window.

I had no choice than to alert the landlady who advised me to report my suspicion to the police. It was when the police forced the door open that I discovered that they were six girls.”

Daniel, 28, said that after her primary school education, she was sent to live with her aunt in Onitsha. She spent seven years with the woman, after which she was sent back to the village.

She was forced to marry her  husband, Mr. Obinna Ndukwe. She would later give birth to Akunnaya 8 and Charity 7. Daniel said: “My marriage ended three years ago. I had to divorce my husband because he was always beating me.

To survive, I had to go into prostitution. I started prostitution in Port Harcourt, but later relocated to Abuja in 2015. Sex market is very lucrative in Abuja. I operated at Arab, opposite Galaxy Shop, in Apo area of Abuja. With time, I realised that I could make more money by recruiting girls to work for me. I brought some girls and gave them conditions.

One of the conditions was that I would pay each of them, N100, 000 after six months of working for me. I also promised to feed them within that period. They all agreed. “We used to take them out at night for prostitution.

We would monitor them, and all the money they made would be given to me. I provided clothes, accommodation and food for them. This would go on until the six months contract expires. I brought only two girls to Abuja; Amarachi and Joy. The other girls were brought by two other women- Mama Cynthia and Azonto.” Madueke, 28, insisted he had committed no crime.

His words: “Early in June, I was in my shop when Amarachi came; she said she wanted to learn how to become a hairstylist. I told her the conditions and she agreed. The next day, she came with four girls and said that they all wanted to be hairstylists. The following day, I was walking pass when I heard voices. I saw people gathered in front of a house. I went closer to inquire what was happening. A commercial motorbike rider gave me a key and said I should unlock the door of the apartment. I unlocked the door and behold Amarachi and other girls.

Just because I could identify them, policemen arrested me. I don’t know anything about the girls movements at night.” One of the victims, Ndulue 22, who dropped out of secondary school due to lack of funds, said did several odd jobs in order to survive, but in May, 2016, the story of her life changed. She said: “Sometime in May, one of my friends gave me the phone number of one madam Daniel, who was based in Abuja.

My friend initially told me that Daniel owned a restaurant and that I was going there to be a salesgirl. When I got to Abuja, I discovered the job was prostitution. I was introduced to other girls. We were expected to go to Apo area every night to have sex with men for money. Our madam gave us a house at Apo and usually provided food for us during the day. Part of our contract was to hand over all the money we made to her, and after six months, she would settle each of us N120, 000. We were free to operate on our own after six months.”

Ndulue said that a few weeks after she joined in the trade, Daniel relocated to Lagos and handed the girls over to Maduekwe. Maduekwe used to collect all the money the girls made and remit it to Daniel’s account.

Ndulue said: “Maduekwe was the person that used to lock us inside the room during the day; at night, he would provide a vehicle that takes us to Arab, opposite Galaxy Shop at Apo.

The cheapest we charge our clients was N500. We charge N500 when customers are not many. Moreover, N500 was just for short time. Maduekwe was always within the area to monitor us.

Whenever our clients paid, Maduekwe would quickly collect the mon-ey. They beat us up if we failed to comply. They also threatened to kill us if we report or try to run away.”

Chinedu, 23, also said that after she dropped out of secondary school, she tried her hands on many jobs, but all didn’t work out. Then she met Daniel in Anambra State. Daniel later brought her to Abuja.

Chinedu said: “Daniel introduced me to Maduekwe and told him to take care of me that I was like a sister to her. I was taken to an apartment in Apo where I met five other girls. We were locked up. One Baba used to come and give us food. I asked Maduekwe why he used to lock us inside the room; he said it was because kidnappers were everywhere. They wanted us to be safe.”

Eze, 21, said that it was her uncle Usher that brought her to Abuja two months ago. According to her, it was after they got to Abuja, she realised the job her uncle spoke about was prostitution.

She said: “They locked me and five other girls inside a room at Apo. We were given food through the window. We were told they locked us because they didn’t want us to run away. At night, they would send a guy to take us to Arab joint for prostitution. I can’t remember the number of men I had had sex with.

They are just too many. What we do is to hang around. As soon as a customer comes along, one of our bosses would come and negotiate with the client. Our job is just to have sex with the customer.” Remembering her own story, Amakwe, 23, said: “I lied to my parents that I was going to Abuja to look for work.

It was madam Azonto that brought us to Abuja for prostitution. I was surprised that they used to lock us inside after work. I didn’t call to tell my parents the situation because I didn’t know how to explain the work I was doing.” John, 19, said: “It was Aunt Joy that brought me to Abuja and handed me over to Madam Azonto.

Madam Azonto promised to give me N200, 000, if I agreed to become a prostitute. She kept me in a room with other girls and fed us three times a day. We charge between N500 to N1000 per round.” The girls were rescued on June 17, 2016 by IRT. The suspects and victims have been handed over to NAPTIP for further investigations.