Borno State government’s recent demolition of illegal hotels and alcohol joints around Maiduguri, the state capital, was done in response to intelligence that such outfits have become security threats, the state attorney General, Kaka-Shehu Lawan, has said.
Mr Lawan, who is also the Commissioner for Justice said about 20 brothels, alcohol joints, and illegal hotels were destroyed last week for violating extant state laws that banned their operations since last year.
He said three major hotels were also shut down for using their facilities to accommodate underaged girls who were being drugged and sexually abused by adults.
Some of the hotels were accused of promoting homosexual activity which is also outlawed by the government.
Last year, the state government carried out a mass demolition of 47 illegal hotels, brothels and alcohol joints which it said had become spots for all forms of criminalities and immoral acts.
The state law prohibits the operation of all kinds of brothels and alcohol joints except in military barracks and other ‘mammy’ markets within the paramilitary barracks.
The proprietors of the 47 pleasure joints had protested the demolition at a press conference asking for compensation.
The then government had instructed the demolition committee to list those who have certified documents over their lands for compensation.
But it turned out more than 90 per cent of the hoteliers and alcohol joint owners did not have any valid title document to advance their demands for compensation.
According to the Attorney General, about a year later, the demolished pleasure joints not only returned to their banned trades, “but some have also gone ahead to rebuild their demolished business premises and resumed their trade”.
“Credible intelligence obtained by the government had also indicated that the resurfaced alcohol joints and brothels are now serving as a hideaway from criminals, deserting soldiers, ritualists and places where school-age teenagers are abused sexually by both military personnel and civilians,” Mr Lawan said.
The existence and operation of these joints forced concerned parents to raise the alarm over the negative influence they have on their children.
Two weeks ago, the arrest of 25 young men who confessed to being members of a cult gang by local security operatives, led to the disclosure of how brothels and illegal hotels provide a haven for all kinds of dangerous crimes and immorality.
“There is a Borno House of Assembly legislation that prohibits the operation of alcohol joints, brothel business, and prostitution except in some designated areas where alcohol can be sold like the military mess or the ‘mammy’ markets in para-military barracks,” said the Attorney General.
“Government have come to find out that such brothels have overtime doubled as criminal hideouts and that was the reason they were banned.
“We received a security report on the activities of such brothels and the state’s Security Council sat on the matter before we decided to take that action of demolishing all the illegal alcohol joints…
“Even the popular Lake Chad Hotel, located in the centre of Maiduguri, unknown to the government has been a den for homosexuals, child abusers, drug addicts as well as sales and smoking of Indian Hemp.
“We learned that some unscrupulous elements have been using the hotel as a place for raping vulnerable girls and women.
“When we visited Lake Chad Hotel, we were shocked to find girls of school age of not more than 15 years of age smoking, being engaged in sodomy and drinking alcohol. We were even shocked to find some married women who were taken to the hotel by strange men.
“So we had to seal the Lake Chad Hotel.”
Mr Lawan said another hotel, the Royal City Hotel, was demolished because the certificate granted to the father of the proprietor stated that the land was purely for a residential purpose. He said the son, who is now the owner, went ahead in flagrant violation of the certificate to convert the place to a commercial joint.
“Apart from that, the proprietor of the same hotel had the guts to annex a public road that has been constructed and tarred by government and made it part of his hotel, thereby blocking the passage.
“The owner of the hotel also erected some kind of tower upon which he mounted some large speakers with which he used to blast sounds of music at night and constitute security risk and disturbance to the members of the community.
“We had it on a good authority that almost on a daily basis, people are being killed by bullet injuries due to sporadic gunshots by some drunken soldiers who usually patronise the place.”
Dens for ritualists
Mr Lawan said another reason the government destroyed some of the hotels was that they served as “resorts for ritual and occultic activities”.
He said some startling discoveries were made during the arrest of 25 men involved in cultism at a hotel called Bagari.
“While making the arrest of the cultist gangs, our local security personnel found them with some weird calabash, jars of red substance which they confessed to the police that it contained human blood that they all drink as part of their rituals.
“The security personnel also recovered two huge live tortoises that they also use for their rituals. They were at the time of their arrests preparing to invite a senior cult group from a different part of Nigeria to come to Maiduguri to initiate some of their members into a major cult group.”
He said uniforms and shoes of school children were recovered from the hotel.
When the government carried out the first demolition in June 2018, many of the hoteliers held a press conference to protest and asking for full compensation.
The government ignored them because most of them had no document to back up their demands.
A leader of the hotel owners, Amechi Onwudinjo, claimed they were unaware of the crimes and vices going on at their hotels and brothels.
It is not clear if the government had hearkened to their plea.
None of the hoteliers came out to publicly protest the latest round of demolitions up to the time of filing this report.