The One Kobo Job: An Unforgetable Evening (2)

The girls our source tell us, “come predominantly from the neighbouring states of Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Delta, Edo and Benue”, we may be unable to ascertain this and tell our source so but he insists his information is spot on and we let it fly. We understand that when the girls first arrive, they are put under the charge of older ones who “show them the way”, our source continues. We do another round of beer and watch as the girls swarm around our table. One especially, who cannot be older than 16, puffs at a cigarette and exhales on us, we just smile and nod at her, it is her territory and the rules here condone her excesses.

You still remeber this?
Blast from the Past! points at the ages of the girls and our source admits that, “the girls are getting smaller and smaller everyday”, it is indeed a cause for serious concern. “There are guys around who enforce the payment of their daily surcharge and if there is a default in payment, the thing dey bad-o”, we here.

The rooms where the girls stay, down the coridoor can best be described as holding cubiles. Plywood is used to partition the rooms, leaving each girl with space big enough for a six spring mattress on the floor, one standing fan, bag space and minimal leg space. We wonder why the Cross River State Government has not shut the place down and our source puts up a credible defence. Hear him, “what is the place designated as? Look these girls are consenting adults and you can never rule out red light districts, to that extent, there’s nothing government can do”. But we remark that government had clamped down on the place and shut it and our source tells us, “…for only three months and they were all back in business. I hope you do recall that the closure was not because the place is what it is, it was because of cult related killings”, we are told.

We are finally able to corner one of the girls who volunteers information, for an agreed fee that we happily part with. She spatters in English and Pidgin “we dey work for the people who brought us here, like me, if I complete my settlement, I will leave the business”. wants to know how much is involved, “my own money is two hundred thousand naira”, she responds. “Can’t you just leave and tell them you cannot pay the money?”, we ask and she gives us a long and hard look, “you wan make I kpai(die)?”, she retorts. bothers about who enforces the rules and we follow her eyes to a group of guys seating harmlessly at a table. “For day time dem dey sell motor spare parts for Bedwell, for night na dem dey make sure say we pay our money”. It is a revelation by any standard. If the set of girls we see here meet their financial targets, they can leave and a fresh pool of girls are brought in, but many never leave because like our source said, “most of them cannot imagine another life”.

The brothers who own this place cruise around Calabar in mint automobiles, police in their pockets and government unmoved. The last piece of music we hear is Kcee’s smash hit, ‘Limpopo’ as we get up and cross the highway to Essien Town where we board our vehicle and leave Calabar own ‘Sodom’.


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