Lagos police have arrested a 33-year-old hotelier, Victor Obano, who allegedly forces young girls to work as prostitutes in his hotel at Ijegun on the outskirts of the state. A commercial sex worker, who identified herself simply as Grace, was also arrested.
According to reports, Obano travels to places like Cross River, Akwa-Ibom and Edo states to lure young girls with the promise to secure jobs for them, but later force them to work as prostitutes in his hotel, after which each paid N2,500 daily for using the rooms.
The police said Obano, who owned Tisa Hotel, lured the victim, Elizabeth, from Akwa Ibom, promising her employment in Lagos State. Obano thereafter turned the job seeker into a sex worker in the hotel.
Elizabeth, a mother of two, reportedly got tired of being a commercial sex worker, and on October 5, told her elder sister on the telephone what she was going through.
The sister was said to have informed the police at the Anti-Robbery Squad of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Yaba, leading to Obano’s arrest.
Another accomplice, a commercial sex worker, identified as Grace Edet, who allegedly was Elizabeth’s supervisor, was also picked up by the police.
Speaking with Punch Metro at the command headquarters, Ikeja, Obano, who admitted to have brought the victim from Akwa Ibom, said he only assisted her to find a means of livelihood.
He said, “I am the manager of Tisa Hotel in the Ijegun waterside. I am not a human trafficker. It was only this lady that I brought from the village. I met the lady three months ago through a friend, when I traveled to Calabar for a friend’s burial, that she had problem taking care of her two children. I met with her father and he explained her predicament. She is 23 years old. She has two kids and she was living a miserable life.
“She begged me to bring her to Lagos so that she could work and take care of them. But before bringing her, I went to see her father who also consented to her coming. So, I decided to get a job for her.
“Before we left Calabar for Lagos, I told her what she would be doing when we get to Lagos and she agreed. The first money she made, she sent it back home for the upkeep of her children, but suddenly she was not concentrating on the hustling anymore.
“She started going out with some boys in my area which annoyed me and I seized her phone. I was in my hotel on Wednesday when policemen came and arrested me for trafficking girls and also forcing them into prostitution.
“Some of the ladies in my hotel came through their friends to work; nobody is forcing them into what they are doing. They pay N2, 500 daily for each room they use. What I am after is money; whenever the girls come I always provide them accommodation. I don’t chase them away.
"The police arrested me because I seized her phones. They said I did not want her to contact her family members, but I collected her phone because I did not want her to have an affair with several men.
“It was her elder sister who reported the matter to the police. The victim is with her brother presently. The arrangement was that I would be paying her and she would also hustle in the hotel and send the money to take care of her father. The police should let this matter be settled amicably. It is a family issue.”
The accomplice, Grace Edet, said he had instructed her to train Elizabeth in commercial sex.
She said, “I have worked in the hotel for some years. I am a commercial sex worker. When the manager came back from Akwa Ibom earlier in the year, he returned with the lady. He handed her over to me, saying I should teach her some tricks of the trade.
“I did not know the arrangement between them. When I asked the lady why she was brought, she replied that she was asked to hustle at the hotel. So, I do not have any fault in the matter.”
A police source said that Obano allegedly had more girls he used as commercial sex workers in his hotel.
The state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, who paraded the suspects, said the command would not tolerate any form of crime, urging the public to always avail the police of credible information.