- Brothel, church, school, TV viewing centre, betting home in one building
By VINCENT KALU
CALL it ‘House of commotion’. You are not far from the reality, judging from the activities that go on in the building. But it is neither a building for animals nor a building made for people to live in. It is a building for public worship where the clergy as distinct from lay people do religious minister’s work. But this house has become a multi-purpose center. It is now a place where people pay to have sexual intercourse with prostitutes as it is where people enter into an agreement that the person who incorrectly predicts the outcome of a future event will forfeit something, usually money, to another. It is also a house where children and teenagers are taught and those, usually above the age of 17 have turned to a television viewing center.
It is an upstairs located at Amukoko bus stop, on 44/52 Cemetery road, Amukoko in Ifelodun Local Council Development Area of Lagos State. The first floor houses the brothel, called Unit Hotel. It is this place that more than 20 prostitutes ply their trade. On the same floor is the television viewing center as well as sports betting home. On the ground floor are a Church, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (Miracle Centre), a primary school named Success Academy School, a shop where liquor is sold on wholesale and a boutique that deals on women apparels. Some business functions or activities in the building are very asymmetrical to the other, while others complement.
There may be nexus between Church and school, but it’s not so with a brothel and a Church or school, as some people will argue that light and darkness do not cohabit. The liquor shop, the boutique and the television viewing centre can be a great fillip to the brothel, but not the Church. That is not the only thing wrong with this ‘house of commotion’. The building for sure is crying for repainting. One side of it, which is green, is fading away very fast and on the right side, which was supposed to be ox-blood coated is now hard to determine the exact colour. Some of the window panes have broken, leaving the place open. The dilapidated furniture in the drinking hall shows that the brothel once saw a good a time.
When the reporter visited, loud speakers used for party the night before were parked at the balcony. Every evening, this music equipment are deployed to keep the hotel lively. In this regard, noise from the hotel filled or polluted the environment. Under this arrangement, it is hard to say that all the occupants carry out their activities without infringing on the other. But they have to endure and trudge on if there wasn’t an infringement or breach. One wonders how the prostitutes feel on Sundays and some week days when messages of salvation, repentance and condemnation of sinners are coming out from the church in the same building.
One of the prostitutes who gave her name as Joy, in a chat with the reporter over a drink, said they are not concerned with whatever message that comes from the Church. According to her, everybody is on his or her own and minds his or her own business. She said they maintain cordial relationship because we respect them and they also respect us. “I have lived here for over four years. We relate well in this compound, and there have not been reasons for us to quarrel. The Church you are talking about is doing their own business; so there is no reason for them to condemn those of us who are in the white-pant jobs.
“Some people collect salary at the end of the month and you say they are doing white collar jobs, but we make our money every time and we are in the white pant jobs. So, no one should trouble the other. The Church is making money as at the end of the day or month and the pastor receives his salary.
“The peace we enjoy in this compound is because the Church does not talk down on us. I can tell you that anytime they start to use us as object of ridicule, then Lagos would hear about us,” she said.
On whether the sound of their musical instruments does not affect the Church during their services especially during the evening service or vigil, Joy still maintained that everybody is on his own, saying that, “you cannot use your own to destroy another person’s own. It is as Fela said, mind your own business,” adding that, “since we have not stopped people from entering the Church, they can’t stop us from doing our own business.”
“Sometimes, some of us who like football go to the centre to watch the game, and for the fans when their teams win they come here to celebrate with us and they buy drinks for us and also have fun. That is the way we relate here,” she said.
Talking about the primary school on the ground floor, Joy said that in the day time, the place is usually quiet, and she doesn’t think they will be affected in anyway, as “our business usually picks up in the evening,” and that “by the time the music comes up, the school must have closed for the day and the pupils are all at their homes.”
One of the teachers of Success Academy School told Saturday Sun on conditions of anonymity that the school is not disturbed by the activities in the hotel or from the television viewing center. Those activities of the hotel and TV centre usually begin in the evening time and weekend by which time the school must have closed for the day. Besides, the school doesn’t open on weekends. “So, there hasn’t been any problem. Everybody relates cordially here. If there is anyone who should complain, I think it should be the Church. But they are not complaining and they have been here for long”.
A young lady who sells recharge cards told Saturday Sun, that Amukoko bus stop is the safest because of the activities that go on in that building as well as the proximity of the police station.
According to her, in the night, traffic into that compound is high, especially those going to watch football at the centre, those going to Church and also those going to the brothel as music from the hotel announces that something is happening there.