IMO – An angry youths from Umuola village, Amaifeke in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State last weekend sealed Even Paris Hotel in the heart of the community for operating a brothel where under-aged girls, mostly junior secondary students of Total Child Missionary School in the community operate as sex slaves.
Orient Weekend gathered that prostitutes and workers operating at the hotel were sacked by the irate youths for turning their village that was once prided as a sacred place into land of immorality. When Orient Weekend reporter visited the hitherto lively hotel earlier this week, it was deserted and under lock and key.
Further investigations reveal that the hotel not only operated as rendezvous for under-age sex patronizers in the state but also a holding centre for young girls trafficked to West African countries such as Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, etc. for prostitution.
The cartel’s mode of operation is similar to those that have been reported about innocent Nigerian girls lured into prostitution in Lagos and Europe. The girls, who are mostly from poor backgrounds and broken homes, serve their ‘aunties’ for as long as two years before they are deemed mature to stand on their own.
Orient Weekend further gathered that Amara and Chimma (real names withheld) two JSS III students of Total Child Missionary School were held captive in a brothel in Cote d ‘Ivoire, where they had to sleep with different men, some of them old enough to be their great grandfather and surrender their entire earnings to women designated as their ‘aunties’. In return, the ‘aunty’ gives them a sum they deem sufficient to cater for their basic needs.
The girls were allegedly recruited by Mrs. Ekwutosi Ifeoma Mgbemere, proprietor of Even Paris Hotel who had promised them sales girls’ jobs of N30,000 during the just ended long vacation holidays. She, however, sold the girls into slavery in West African countries.
While Mrs. Mgbemere allegedly fled when police operatives raided the facility, her husband, Mr. Alamezie Mgbemere, their 17-year-old daughter, Chinenye Mgbemere, commander of vigilante group in the village, Chidi Okorienta and one Chibuike Ijeji were arrested and arraigned in court for human trafficking, amongst other offences.
Before the girls were taken into the hotel custody, one of the security vigilante commanders in the village, Chidi Okorienta, who is a member of the cartel, would take the girls to a native doctor to administer oath of allegiance on them.
A source in the hotel told our correspondent that for a newly recruited girl to become a member of the prostitution ring, her ‘aunty’ has to pay the sum of N50,0000 to the proprietor, Mrs. Mgbemere, as registration fee. After that, the ‘aunty’ makes the young girl sleep with older men. All the proceeds from her sexual activities go to the ‘aunty’ who decides how much is returned to the young girl as “pocket money”.
Orient Weekend also learnt that Mrs. Mgbemere, who runs the brothel with her husband, Alamezie Mgbemere and their 17-year-old daughter, Chinenye Mgbemere are natives of Umuola Ofeahia Amaifeke. The couple, it was further learnt, used their daughter, Chinenye, as a bait to get other young girls from the village for their international trade.
To avoid suspicion, no girl from the village was brought into the hotel. Rather, like Amara and Chimma, girls from Umuola or Amaifeke were recruited for export.
According to Chimma, who was just rescued from Cote d ‘Ivoire by the Igbo Union, they were 12 girls that were promised sales girls jobs in Ihiala, Anambra State. But they eventually found themselves in Cote d ‘Ivoire where they were kept in a place as sex slaves.
Two of the girls who had been rescued were brought to court to testify. “I just finished my Junior Secondary School (WAEC) exam hoping to enter SS1. But Auntie Ifeoma through her daughter called us that she will give us work where we will be earning little money until school resumes for new session. To be honest with you sir, I told her I would not go because my father would not be happy to learn that I left village to work anywhere even though my mother is dead and my father is not in the village. But, how we agreed to travel with her is something I cannot explain.
“All I understood was that we were brought to a place that looked like a shrine by the man in charge of the village vigilante, named Chidi Okorienta. It was in that place that the native doctor did somethings to us and told us that if we tell anybody what we were doing and where we were going, we would all be dead.
“We were then taken to Ihiala to a woman I understood her name to be Dada Juliet, who shared us between herself and another woman called Madam Billy. After that moment, we saw ourselves in Cote d ‘Ivoire in a small hotel. I don’t know where they took the other girls to.”, one of the girls told Orient Weekend in court where the perpetrators were being arraigned.
On how she escaped, one of the girls disclosed that when she discovered what she was into she started crying and eventually met an Igbo man, who arranged for her escape.
According to her, the man took her to the president of Igbo Union in Cote d ‘Ivoire, “who used the police to get the woman I’m serving to tell them how many girls that were brought from Nigeria. She said it was only 12 of us that were arranged for her”.
The accused, who are standing trial charges of conspiracy, human trafficking and knowingly allowing teenagers to engage in unlawful sexual intercourse, were arraigned in an Orlu Magistrate Court with a suit number: MOR/169C/2018.
The prosecutor, Elizabeth Azubuike, told the court that the accused committed the offences between July and August 2018.
The counsel to the accused, Barr. Austin Okoro, argued that since the prime suspect, Mrs. Ifeoma Mgbemere was at large, the court should grant the others bail particularly the 17-year-old child who is yet a minor.
But the magistrate, Mr. E.N. Eke, who declined to entertain the matter, advised the prosecutor to approach family court since the matter has to do with minor.
He cautioned the defence counsel to drop the idea of one of the accused persons being a minor because the victims were equally minors.
He discharged the accused, who were immediately re-arrested for onward arraignment in a family court.