…where prostitution, gambling thrive
- Small London, Malaysia, China, Dubai hottest spots
- Teenage mums, babies live in shanties
- Married women offer sex for free meat
It is meant for those who want to buy and sell meat. But the Lagos abattoir is more than an ordinary meeting place for those selling and buying cow meat. It has the fun side, where revellers gather to have their field day. OLUWATOSIN OMONIYI, who monitored their activities, in this second part of the abattoir story, reports
The more you look at this market, it becomes the less you see. When Saturday Telegraph made several visits to the abattoir and its surroundings, it discovered untold shoddiness and funny like movements. But this is very difficult to differentiate especially as the place reeks of the smell of animals, faeces, and blood perhaps.
All a customer wants to do is bargain as much as possible, finish and leave the premises as soon possible. However, with patience and discernment, one could see beneath the surface of the usual buying, selling, pulling, offloading and slaughtering of cows and other animals.
There are about five sections within the market for relaxation after the day’s hard work. They are not just ordinary relaxation points, they are absolute playground for those who want to be lost to the world. The Lagos Abattoir Market is not just a meat market; it is a home to lost, forgotten and runaway children. The market serves more than one purpose.
Inside, they peddle drugs of all sorts, ranging from cocaine, marijuana to all different kinds of cough syrups that the world of pharmacy can offer. But the couph syrups are never meant to relief medical condition. Rather, it is a crude way of making those who take them ‘high’. Also ongoing inside the market is the world of prostitution mostly by underage girls.
There are about five points of relaxation namely Kongiri, Small London, Malaysia, China and Dubai. They were named according to perceived nature of enjoyment of these countries. Their lingua franca is Hausa language.
Kongiri is named after a small town in Jos, Plateau State. But the Kongiri inside abattoir market, is an open vast ground which serves as both training ground for the young ones going into the sex business and for those who just want to have a ‘quickie’ before going back to their businesses. According to Ayomide Yahaya, 13, who has left home for four years, Kongiri is a ‘slaughter slab’ for married women and young girls who want to catch fun.“Here, we catch our fun. It supposed to be for the young ones that are newly introduced into the business and who are willing to go to the next level-small London.
But married women who don’t want to go through the stress of renting a room or who often can’t afford to pay for their goods- meat – that they bought in the market, will come here to have a quickie with those selling beefs. They have even taken the shine off us. The mallams prefer them to us, the young ones here.
They say the married women don’t demand money and no strings attach after the quickie,” she narrated. At Kongiri, Saturday Telegraph saw hundreds of underage children looking so unkempt roaming about and begging passers-by for money to feed. They practically hawk themselves almost naked. The young girls beg for money by raising their dress up to expose their private parts while the boys would expose their penises to any passers-by who care to look their way. That way, she said, they get their daily feeding money.
At Small London, it is a different world. In fact, it could be best described as weird wild world. Saturday Telegraph observed that almost all the girls were below age 15 and had babies. They live in makeshift shanties made of planks and tarpaulin.Inside a tarpaulin, there could be about 12 girls including their babies. For these set of girls, their babies are no hindrance to their businesses.
Whenever their customers come around for sex, they push the babies to one side of the bed made of plank and have their enjoyment. Even the cry of the babies does not matter, it is business time and they have to do it first and babies can wait. The most pathetic is the story of seven-year-old Kemi, who got introduced to the world of sex at such a young age. According to Kemi’s mentor, Tope Ajagbe, 13, “Kemi can suck the ‘living daylight’ out of a man’s penis. She started sucking at the age of five and now she is perfect. Very soon, she will start twisting men in bed, as you can see, she is fine and shapely,” she said with glee. From 8p.m. in Small London, it becomes a free show for all as the girls go about in their enclave almost naked. Some had only panties on, while some walk about with just their bras on.
They smoke weed heavily in this part of abattoir market. The majority of their customers are cattle merchants from the North or those who guard the cattle inside the trucks from North to Lagos. According to Baba Wasi, as he is popularly called in and around the abattoir market, all the girls staying in Small London are those who ran away from homes, who having tasted this kind of enjoyment, will never go back home. He told Saturday Telegraph that the freedom and lifestyles the girls are exposed to, is too enticing for them to even spare a though for their homes. He revealed that their daily feeding habit is like that of a king having a feast.
“That’s the reason the girls do not like to go back home. They would rather bring in more of their friends. For us, it has become a lifestyle that we enjoy,” Baba Wasi said. Baba Wasi who was a guide to Saturday Telegraph reporter for two weeks said it takes grace of God for any child who enters that place to come out.
“The child should just be left to eternal condemnation,” he said. Most of the girls who spoke to Saturday Telegraph are in their early teens, the oldest being 13 years. For them, there’s no regret being in the business; it is just a normal way of living. In fact, they intend to become successful and pass it on to the next generation.
Malaysia is the ‘shadowing’ point where the mallams pick their preferred girls for the night. This point is close to the park where they board vehicles to Sokoto State or other parts of the North. Shockingly, often times, the bus bring girls from the North to the Lagos abattoir market. It is the more the merrier for them.
At Malaysia, no one knows who is who as all the women cover their heads with scarfs and wear long gowns. They sit in twos and threes chatting in loud voices. It’s a ploy to attract the attention of men who will pretend to be passing by or going inside the largest supermarket there. After walking up and down, they eventually settle down with their choice.
Five minutes after arrival, they begin to leave with the ladies to their respective corners. Malaysia comes alive from 9 p.m. daily with food vendors, barbecue vendors (Suya joints) and the queens of the night who throng there in their hundreds in heavily perfumed seethrough attires.
It is a world of drugs and gambling in Dubai. The commonly sold drugs in this part of the market are cough syrups of all sorts aside the regular hard drugs. This range from codeine to expectorant and ordinary cough syrup, including those that are possibly not known in Nigeria pharmaceutical circles, Dubai does not lack in supply to its customers.
Saturday Telegraph observed that practically all the people walking, playing snooker or gambling were half-conscious or not conscious at all, due to the effect of cough syrups they had taken. In fact, the few cows Saturday Telegraph saw roaming among them were staggering.
They looked weak, drowsy with saliva pouring uncontrollably from their mouths. Given the movement of the cows, they were obviously drugged, and not as active as normal animals should be. While on the snooker table, the boys put one carton each of any brand of cough syrup by their side, they go as far as betting with it. Surprisingly, Dubai has a rule which says you can only smooch but without any form of sex. Failure to obey means ostracism.
China is the most sophisticated part of the abattoir. It is well built and organised, devoid of the usual market stench. China is not meant for every Tom Dick and Harry. It is a place meant for the big guys of the market and their friends from outside. Their women are classy and charming with heavy perfume on them. It is difficult to believe that such a place exists in such a filthy environment.
Yet, it does exist. It is a one-stop hidden centre for enjoyment, sex and its accessories like sex toys, body massage, and suntan corridor and spa. The exterior of the building clearly distinguishes the centre from the market- it stands out, decorated with blue glittering marbles. But for the fact that it was built inside the market, it should ordinarily compete with at least a four-star spa centre in a choice area.
The entry time is from 7p.m. with a thorough inspection at the entrance door. Inside, Saturday Telegraph learnt, it is enjoyment galore including strip teasing session.The tour guard also informed that they invite top artistes occasionally to perform inside the China centre. It is indeed a weird wild word as Saturday Telegraph saw some people in the sex act but in a very odd place. They were having it on a wrapper spread on the ground inside the cow shed where the cattle are kept. While some were enjoying themselves, others were eating and chatting freely as if nothing was going on around them.
There was no fear of being stamped upon by these cows, neither were they irritated by the stench emanating directly from the shed. It is indeed a different world for different folks. According to Baba Wasi, life inside abattoir is entirely a different, coded world understood and enjoyed only by it patrons. He revealed that most of the girls could no longer go home once they step into the relaxation areas of the market.
“They become hypnotised for life once they taste the lifestyle here especially as the mallams sleep with them. They also spoil the girls with huge amount of money,” he said. He added that half of the missing girls in Lagos are inside Lagos abattoir market where they metamorphose into a different lifestyle. The tour guide revealed further that he became an initiate of the market when his 12-year-old daughter got missing from the house. He said they spent four months searching for his daughter- Wasilat, until someone told him to go look for her in abattoir with her photograph. True to speculation, he found his daughter but she was obviously lost to the meat market world.
“My daughter told me point blank to forget about her. She told me to go adopt a baby or try to have another with her mother. I was shocked! I wept and pleaded with her but all pleas were ignored. A few days after, I resorted to spiritual means by going back to the market with a keg of Holy water to pour on her as instructed by my Chief Imam, to make her come back to her senses. Shockingly again, she already knew as she told me on the phone not to bother myself because she was not alone and friends could kill her if she deserted them,” he said.
He narrated further that, he did not give up on her. In an effort to rescue his daughter, he teamed up with the security officials at the gate. “From there I saw that life could be truly enjoyable inside the market. I decided to leave Wasilat to her life and world. Nine years after, I have not set my eyes on my daughter but I believe she is well and good,” he said.
Baba Wasi is not alone in his lamenta-tion, Hajia Yewande Lawal nearly ended up in jail over her missing cousin who was staying with her. Lawal, a textile merchants, told Saturday Telegraph that, Bose, her little cousin, was just 11 when she left home for the meat market. According to her, she brought Bose from Ilorin. Kwara State, to help her monitor her sales girls in the shop as she is a smart girl with native intelligence. Lawal believed Bose was introduced to the meat market through peer pressure group while she was assisting her at the shop.
However, on a tip off, Lawal went to abattoir market with Bose’s photograph; at the early hours of the day- 5 a.m. “I went to look for her.” At the entrance, she met two security men – Baba Wasi and one other man who told her that she could not go in except they helped her to search for the girl.
“I paid N5,000 to these men and within 30 minutes, they came out with Bose who has changed so much within two months of her disappearance. “My girl told me not to worry about her anymore and that she was sorry for leaving without informing me ahead but it was quite unfortunate that she could not follow me back home. Two years later, I went back, only to see Bose with a baby girl on her back with full make-up on her face. I offered to take the baby from her, she declined; I had no choice but to let her be. No doubt, it is very painful especially as her parents nearly put me into jail believing that I sold their daughter out,” she said. Lawal also pleaded with the Lagos State government to help look into the issue. “I plead with them to demolish the shanties and hideout. Let them take the girls for rehabilitation and put in place stringent measure to forestall the acts.
Child prostitution seems to be on the increase in Lagos. Ngozi Okoro, Lagos State coordinator, of Child Protection Network, a non-governmental organisation, confirmed this to Saturday Telegraph. She said her NGO in partnership with the Lagos State government and NAPTIP are working seriously to see to the eradication of child prostitution in Lagos.
“Most of the young girls are lured into prostitution by their peers and some are trafficked. They are tricked that there is job available for them in Lagos. However, we are creating more awareness about child prostitution in Lagos. But we are not aware of the young girls at the Lagos abattoir. I can assure you that we will work on that area, rehabilitate and make human beings of them again,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Ministry of Agriculture through the permanent secretary, Dr Olayiwole Onasanya, denied knowledge of child prostitution in the abattoir. He said they were only aware of gambling and high consumption of alcohol which was the main reason for the demolition they carried out some months ago. “But now that you have called our attention to it, we will work with other relevant agencies and elders of the market to eradicate such practice,” he said
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