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Nneamaka Madumelu (Nnenny)

Sexplosion On Campus

Published By: .

February 5, 2007


Chinazo Okoli


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Love, Sex, And Relationships

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Want easy sex? Go to the campuses of Nigerian universities and polytechnics. From citadels of knowledge, the nation’s tertiary institutions have become red-light districts, as female undergraduates sell their bodies

By Bamidele Johnson

Thirty minutes. That was how long it took two Lagos-based journalists to drink a bottle of beer each at an open-air bar in Calabar Museum, Calabar, capital of Cross River State. But it took them less than that to get the consent of two female undergraduates of the University of Calabar to keep them warm on their first night in the city. They had not seen the girls before, but it did not matter. The consent was secured on phone. Before then, as they drank, their eyes scanned the environment in the hope of finding girls that would warm their beds for the night. However, the frantic search was futile because the girls streaming in were either with men or waiting for them. The prospect looked very bleak. But in a flash, one of the journalists remembered that a friend in Lagos had told him fantastic stories about his visit to Calabar.

The friend, also a journalist, had limitless fun with girls during the four-day visit. He just may be of help, thought the man in Calabar. He reached for his mobile phone and called his friend in Lagos to announce that he was in Calabar and badly needed female company. “That is not a problem. Hang up, I will call back,” said the man in Lagos. Two minutes later, he called back, dictating a phone number. It was the number of one of the girls he’d slept with during his visit. He had spoken with the girl and she was expecting a call from the man in Calabar. “My name is John,” he told the girl, “and I got your number from my friend in Lagos. I am in Calabar with a friend and we would need company.” She got the message. The hardest part was over, as the girl asked where they were lodged and revealed where she was–the University of Calabar. The next stage was where to meet. Being unfamiliar with Calabar, the journalists relied on their phones. At that point, GSM seemed like an abbreviation of Global Sex Machine.

A meeting was fixed for an eatery. When the journalists got there, they called the number of the girl they had been speaking with and described what they were wearing. Two girls walked up to introduce themselves. The introduction continued over snacks. Minutes later, they were on their way to the hotel. “It cost us very little. We gave them N2000 each in the morning. They were happy and told us to call them again in the evening if we wanted,” recalled John. But there was no need. Having made friends with a male Calabar resident during the day, they secured a promise of similarly hassle-free sex for the next night. The resident, owner of a rich deposit of girls’ phone numbers, gave two to John and his friend. As they did on the first day, they called the girls and had them for the night. The girls, like those before them, were University of Calabar students, studying Economics. John was impressed, both with the sex and the conduct of the girls. “They spoke good English, discussed budget and political issues comfortably, dressed well and carried condoms,” he told TheNEWS.

Was that not prostitution? “It is not. It is called runs. They are runs girls, not prostitutes,” he said defensively. Runs is the latest rage among female undergraduates of the nation’s tertiary institutions. Stripped of the gloss put on it by its practitioners, it is prostitution without proposition. Almost. Calabar’s reputation as a city of easy sex predates the runs age. It has, however, been enhanced by stories told by philanderers. Philanderers love the city and its two universities - University of Calabar and the Cross River State University of Technology (CRSUT), which is considered a more bountiful place than the latter. The girls also love the philanderers, who give them money. The city’s universities may have big reputations, but not anything close to what obtains in big-city universities or polytechnics and other institutions close to such. As a matter of fact, wherever there is an institution of higher learning, there are runs girls.

Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, has an unenviable reputation as one of the leading centres of campus prostitution. Its closeness to Lagos ensures a steady stream of affluent sexual thrill seekers. The regular runs girls latch on to any man with the prospect of giving them a good time, good sex and good money. The lowest fee, TheNEWS learnt, is N2,500 per night. If a girls turns impressive tricks in bed, her earnings could be enhanced by an extra sum for recharge cards. Running into OOU’s runs girls is as easy as sipping a drink. Barbies, an eatery in Ijebu-Igbo and Second Kitchen in Ago-Iwoye attract them and those who need them in droves. No conversational skills are required. At Barbies, money talks and loudly, too. Its biggest patrons are Internet scammers (known locally as Yahoo Boys) who, once they roll into town in their sleek cars and flush with cash, send the girls into dreams of hefty pay days. The girls, ever seductively dressed, strut their stuff.

Though Yahoo Boys have fatter wallets and are considered more generous, there are usually not enough to go round the girls. In that situation, other rich and not-so-rich men can still have girls to grace their beds. Men with kinkier preferences such as anal sex or sleeping with two women at a time also do not find it too difficult to get partners with similar tastes. Their special needs are served by some female and male undergraduates who know girls that are not averse to such. One of such is Lamide Arawole (not real names), a third year Sociology undergraduate. From all indications, she has succeeded in the trade. She drives a Honda Accord car and owns two high-end Nokia phones. Her client base is largely made up of affluent men–young or old–who want fun when they are in town and sometimes ask her to send girls to them in Lagos.

Lamide is a fixture in all the major hotels in Ago-Iwoye and Ijebu-Igbo, where OOU also has a campus. Her job is to seek out men in search of fun and get them girls to take care of them. To market the girls in her stable, she goes around with a photo album containing pictures of the girls. This enables the men to take their picks. The girl is then summoned to the hotel to meet the man. For every girl she brings, Lamide gets a percentage of whatever is paid. In some cases, the men also pay in appreciation. Even without Lamide and her ilk, things could still run smoothly. Bartenders in the hotels also run their own ring. The trick is the same: from an album, a man makes his choice and the bartender phones the girl to check if she is available. For his efforts, the bartender is given tips by the men and also paid by girls when they are through in the morning. Bigger money is, however, made when Lamide sources girls for parties like bachelor’s eves or to serve as ushers at corporate events. As ushers, it is part of the girls’ brief to sleep with men who want them. For bachelor’s eves, a minimum of N100,000 is charged, depending on the distance. Girls who go also have the chance of making extras from men who take them to bed at such parties.

Lamide’s success has angered a few girls who were once with her. Chinyere, a Business Studies student, used to belong to Lamide’s stable. She accused Lamide of snatching all the men she knew and passing them over to her friends. “Lamide has cornered all my boyfriends for her Yoruba friends. And because I do not want any wahala, I have decided to move to Ijebu-Igbo,” she told TheNEWS. Lagos, being the nation’s commercial capital, has a phenomenal runs market. The major centres are University of Lagos (UNILAG), Lagos State University (LASU), Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech) and Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOLY). UNILAG’s Moremi Hall, a female hall of residence, is a hot spot. In fact, it was once the hottest spot until the authorities decided to accommodate female undergraduates who are in the first class or second class upper bracket. In front of the hall is a signpost with the message: “No to campus prostitution. AIDS is real.” Another one screams: “Aristorism is Aristocrazy. Our dear daughters, beware of Aristorism. Aristocrats are out to ruin your precious lives.” Both messages rarely get more than a glance.

For Moremi residents, Aristorism, the practice of dating rich, much older and often married men known as Aristos, is as important as their studies. The Aristo normally keeps a regular girl, whom he spoils with money and other gifts in return for sex. But many girls, TheNEWS learnt, are into typical runs. Devoid of emotional commitments, it is uncomplicated. Through male undergraduates who act as pimps, men drive into the campus and go off with girls. In most cases, no fees are charged. But before a pimp links a girl to a client, he does a sort of profiling that gives a rough hint of the depth of the man’s pocket. The pimp is then rewarded by the man, as well as the girl upon her return from the night out. But Moremi Hall has lesser concentration of runs girls than New Hall.

Situated at the centre of the main artery to the campus, the New Hall is a cluster of five other hostels. These are Madam Tinubu, Fagunwa and Makama Bida Halls, all female hostels. The others are Eni Njoku and Sodeinde, both male hostels. Together, they form the New Hall Arcade. With its blend of male and female students, pleasure-seeking men have little trouble in locating pimps. Besides, porters in the various halls are said to work in tandem with the aristos. Some of them keep photographs of some of the fun-seeking girls, which are presented to patrons to enable them make ‘‘informed choices.’’ In Unilag, it is a well known fact that many girls who are accommodated in some of the halls of residence are actually not students, but glorified sex workers who have seen in the university a veritable ‘‘staging post.’’

But how prevalent is the sex trade in Unilag? A source puts the figure at three out of six. “It’s not difficult to identify them. Some drive flashy cars, jeeps and use expensive phones, sometimes as many as three,” said the source. The ratio could be more in institutions of higher learning in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State. Crawling with oil workers and awash with petro-naira, Port Harcourt is every runs girl’s dream city. Aside offering the chance to get paid in naira as well as in foreign currencies, it also offers the chance to marry a foreigner. These are feverishly sought by female undergraduates of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) and the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RUST). Depending on the class of the customer, said a Port Harcourt runs girl who identified herself as Nkechi Martins, a night could bring $500 or more. But the white men are known to sometimes subject the girls to all sorts of indignity. Tortuous sex drills and indecent exposures are common. Last year, two female students of a university in Rivers State reportedly made away with a brief case said to contain thousands of US dollars belonging to their expatriate client.

The ladies were said to have stolen the briefcase after a bout of sex and extensive nude photo sessions with the white man who allegedly paid pittance for their services. Peeved by their actions, the expatriate distributed the nude photos to friends and to some internet sites in vengeance. According to Nkechi, expatriates are called Angolos, while older men are called mugus. Nkechi lives big. She claimed to have a rich collection of expensive jewellery and each of her three phones are recharged with a minimum N20,000 monthly. As in other places, Port Harcourt runs girls operate through male and female pimps, who are not always undergraduates. But runs girls do not depend entirely on pimps. A source told this magazine that girls also go in search of the phone numbers of top politicians, businessmen and company executives.

A top politician disclosed how a girl he never met kept sending him romantic text messages. “I don’t know her and don’t know how she got my number,” he said. TheNEWS investigations reveal that runs girls, assisted by call centre operators, go through pay phones and copy numbers. They call the numbers in the hope that they will belong to men who would be rich and keen on them. An insider at RUST, Port Harcourt told this magazine that a prospective client only needs to drive into the campus and he is quickly swarmed by male undergraduates. The standard question is: “Are you looking for somebody?” This is asked with the aim of determining if the client has a particular girl. If he has not, a girl is quickly provided. It does not take more than a couple of phone calls. Runs girls who want to attract big fees, explained Nkechi, need to always turn out well. “Expensive phones, jewellery, clothes and perfumes are necessary to tell clients that you are not cheap,” explained Nkechi.

There is, however, a more potent tool: juju (charms). These are obtained to ensure that a generous client does not go looking elsewhere, explained a pimp. They come in form of creams (rubbed on the breast or genitals) and incisions on breasts, genitals or the tongue. Expatriates are often the targets of these charms. An auto dealer told TheNEWS that an expatriate once came to his showroom with a runs girl. The girl insisted that she wanted an expensive jeep as birthday present. “The Oyinbo man was just begging the girl to “manage” a jeep worth N4.5 million. But the girl refused and insisted she wanted an Infiniti Jeep worth over N8 million. The man continued to beg, but the girl remained unmoved. The man, looking like he was under a spell, left with a promise to return and buy the jeep of the girl’s choice,” said the auto dealer.

This magazine also learnt that girls from Niger Delta University, Amassoma in Bayelsa State, as well as those from tertiary institutions in adjoining states also troop to Port Harcourt for weekend runs. So rampant is the trend in oil-producing areas that a medical doctor declared that the possibility of the spread of AIDS is a bigger threat to the Niger Delta region than the environmental degradation being experienced. The situation at the University of Benin and the Ambrose Alli University (AAU) is not different. Though not as lucrative as it is in Port Harcourt or Lagos, runs is thriving well. Conscious that they school in somewhat depressed localities, girls in AAU, College of Education, Ekiadolor, and Igbinedion University, Okada, are in constant touch with their counterparts in the University of Benin. Through the phone–a vital tool of the trade–they are informed of parties, conferences and other social functions taking place in Benin. But the mode of operation varies, depending on the occasion.

In some instances, this magazine was told, men need to go through a network of contacts, who will assess the client. When TheNEWS met Vick, a contact person, she promised to provide female undergraduates immediately. To convince the reporter that they were undergraduates, Vick said they would come with their identity cards. The cheapest price for a night, she explained, is N5,000. This, however, does not stop a girl from negotiating other personal terms like extracting a promise that the man would always see her anytime he is in town or getting his complimentary card for future contact. According to Vick, runs girls are also called Conference Materials if they are doubling as ushers at big events. Payment for being an usher is, however, different from that of having sex. “If you want babes that will also act as ushers, it means you will pay more. They may have to miss classes and other things. That is why we charge more if we are to be ushers too,” she explained.

There are also small-time runs girls, who depend on male undergraduates to get clients for them. For as little as N2,000, they are available for the night. This group has a steady market because its members are affordable. Runs girls in Auchi Polytechnic have the fortune of being in the vicinity of an installation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The runs phenomenon has also crept into the predominantly Muslim Northern part of the country. Abuja, the Federal Capital, is a prominent market. Because it hosts big businessmen and politicians, it attracts runs girls from every part of the country. Female undergraduates of the University of Abuja are given stiff competition from their colleagues from other institutions. TheNEWS learnt that many of them have been forced into propositioning men on Abuja streets and hotels. But many still attract Abuja’s monied men, if they ( the men) are not flying in girls from Lagos or other cities.

In Kwara State, the University of Ilorin and the state Polytechnic, also in Ilorin, keep the city’s randy men happy. They are usually found on Ahmadu Bello Avenue in the GRA, Coca-Cola Road/Obbo Road Junction as well as on Challenge and Adewole roads. Runs girls are also available at areas like Oyun, Elekoyangan, Sango, Saw-Mill, Adewole Estate, Agbo-Oba, Tanke and Fate. These areas have a huge population of students who cannot find accommodation on campus. At the University of Maiduguri in Borno State, runs is the rule rather than the exception. Girls are said to register with a coordinator, who links them with men. In Benue State University, Makurdi, the procedure is similar, except that it is done more openly. The patrons are said to be top government officials. Their favourite haunts are Swange Cinema Hall and Adoms Club. A bout of protected sex costs N1,000, while N7,000 is charged for unprotected sex.

What is the motivation for taking to runs? Girls, who spoke with TheNEWS, attribute the trend to poverty and greed. “Many of us are responsible for our fees. Our parents can’t afford to pay. In some cases, the girls don’t have parents and they want to go to school, eat well, dress well. Where would the money come from?” asked a runs girl. Investigations by TheNEWS indicate that the mass media, especially newspapers, have become tools for the furtherance of the sex trade. Girls with interest in runs send their pictures for publication as pin up girls, with their e-mail addresses and phone numbers attached to the published pictures. The publication automatically serves the function of yellow pages or directory for potential clients. Some aggressive ladies take the hunt for clients a step further by making contact with society columnists and journalists to help them source for patrons.

A student of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU, Ago Iwoye once came all the way from campus to implore a PMNews columnist to link her up with top society men. To ensure that the largesse from patrons gets to as many ladies as possible, the runs babes have devised a means to help one another. Some of the ladies save as many as 10 images of close friends in their handsets. Thus, one person can act as a marketer for all. “If you are with a guy you can tell him or his friends about others,” intoned an OOU student. It is also not uncommon to find some OOU babes coming to lodge in Lagos hotels all by themselves with the intention of going all-out at night in search of rich patrons. A banker recalled how a student who had consented to sex with him convinced him to allow her to bring her friend along for bouts of sex with him! It is called twosome. And to the girls it offers so much fun.

A journalist also recalled how while travelling from Ibadan to Lagos along with his friend, an events manager, two girls in a commercial bus compelled the driver to level up ‘‘with our car and threw their phone numbers into our car. This underlines how desperate these girls can get.’’ Dr. Anthony Ehor, a lecturer at the Department of Psychology, University of Lagos, said economy is the major factor. “Statistics has shown that 85 per cent of girls who go into prostitution, do so for economic reasons. We also find that a very significant number also do so for psychological reasons; just to belong. There is a new dimension these days: many of them are going after older men–men who have money, even though they are married, because of financial constraints. There is a girl who needs clothes, who needs money, who needs to buy books and who has social pressures. And she may not have that money on her own because she is not working to earn an income. Therefore, she relies on men who are wealthy to satisfy those needs,” he told TheNEWS.

However, Ehor does not believe that the runs is pervasive on campus because many of the girls are not students. “Studies have also shown that it is not every girl on the campus that is a student. So many girls you find here, who are being accommodated on campus, are not really our students... It is just because the focus is here. And for instance, when they are on holidays, they do it outside,” he submitted.

– Reports by Okafor Ofiebor (Port Harcourt), Emmanuel Una (Calabar), Ernest Omoarelojie (Benin), Olusola Olaosebikan (Ago-Iwoye) and Michael Mukwuzi.

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