By Emeka Nwokocha
Human Rights Protection Congress (HRPC), a frontline human rights organization in Nigeria, has called on operators of hotels in Delta State and across Nigeria to desist from accommodating underage girls in their facilities, stating that the extant laws of Nigeria forbid child prostitution.
The principal officers of HRPC, led by Pastor Edewor Egedegbe, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the organization, made this known while educating a section of persons operating “makeshift” hotels in a suburb of Effurun metropolis, near trailers park, along the Effurun-Sapele-Benin express way.
Speaking, National Director General of HRPC, Deacon Monday Enudi, charged the managers of the hotels to shun the unlawful act of accommodating minors in their facilities, warning that HRPC would not look the other way while teenage girls are lured into prostitution, an act he said seriously contravenes the laws of the country and attracts severe punishment to the owner of the hotels where such immoral activities take place.
Continuing, Enudi said that the Nigerian laws bar any girl below 18 years from being accommodated in a hotel to engage in commercial sex activities.
He stated that the attention of the organisation was drawn to the activities of the ‘makeshift’ hotels, following the “raiding” of the hotels by law enforcement operatives while on routine operations to nip criminalities in the bud.
He added, “Our undercover investigation revealed that underage girls are being harboured in your facilities. Therefore, we are here to educate the girls, including the operators of the facilities about the danger of underage prostitution, trafficking in persons, slave and forced labour. Our concern is primarily to promote the safety of our society for the good of all.”
He charged the operators of the hotels to always conduct their businesses within the ambit of the Nigerian laws, stating that child prostitution is illegal in Nigeria.
He added, “According to Section 222A of the Criminal Code prohibits prostitution of girls below the age of 16 and also, section 30(2)(a) of the Child Rights Act prohibits the use of a child below 18 for prostitution.”
Also speaking, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of HRPC, Pastor Edewor Egedegbe, admonished the operators of the hotels from creating an environment that promotes teenage prostitution, warning that all measures would be taken within the tenets of the laws to ensure violators of the laws are made to face the consequences of their actions.
He stated that the HRPC seriously frowns at violations of human rights and would take all measures to defend and protect those whose rights are being violated.
He said, “We are concerned that underage girls are being accommodated in your facilities, therefore, we are here to educate you and implore you to put a stop to it.”
“We are committed to addressing any ills that pose threat to the fundamental rights of the people and further pose threat to societal peace,” he stated.
Continuing, he said, “There are consequences for aiding and abetting any activities or acts that contravene the laws. We must be guided with the fact that the Nigerian constitution permits individuals to do business anywhere in the country, but such business must be in line with the provisions of the law.”
He added, “We came to preach peace and speak to you and ensure this place is free from crime, and it does not recruit and harbour minors for the purpose of exploitation, forced labour, slavery and commercial sex act.”
In the same vein, Mrs. Joy Tobele, further explained that in line with the Nigerian laws, girls under 18 years are prohibited from being harboured in hotels.
She said, “Sex trafficking is considered a human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery, which is an obvious form of modern slavery.”
Responding, Mr. Godspower Odiase, Mr. Benson Umukoro, and Chief Richard Ferife thanked the members of HRPC for the enlightenment and advice, assuring that they would ensure they conduct their business operations without infractions of the law.