The Gender Unit of the Nigerian Police Force Criminal Investigation Department, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on Friday, raided Ignobis Hotels, Gado Nasco Road in Kubwa, Abuja, for alleged abuse, endangerment of minors.
The raid was led by Inspector Ossai Ojobo, an Investigation Police Officer, along with officials of the Social Development Secretarial (SDS), FCT Administration and representatives of a non-governmental organisation.
After the raid, the Hotel Manager, Mr Akbueze Chidi and a restaurant operator in the hotel, Ms Priscilla Abuyah, were arrested and taken to the Force CID for questioning and further investigation.
The raid followed a petition by Human Rights Agenda Network (HRAN), an NGO, to the Social Welfare Department of the SDS, alleging that the hotel was harbouring minors and exposing them to sexual exploitation.
Mrs Joy Omokivie, the SDS Officer in charge of the case, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), that the SDS channelled the petition to the Gender Unit of the Force CID to investigate the matter.
Omokivie added that the hotel was classified as a brothel by residents, where young girls, including underaged girls were being brought in for sex.
She said that in the petition, HRAN had alleged that a 12-year-old minor and her younger brother, 4, were staying at the hotel with a woman, purported to be their mother.
She added that after some investigations, the 12-year-old girl was rescued and currently in the custody of the Social Welfare Department, “while the young boy is still with the mother.”
According to her, the raid was part of an ongoing investigation to determine the veracity of the allegations and if found to be true, rescue the minors and prosecute the culprits.
HRAN had in the petition accused the woman, Mrs Immanuela Austyn-Araki, a Bolt driver of abandoning the children in the hotel in the morning, leaving them to fend for themselves.
The NGO claimed that the children eat mostly snacks and noodles until she returns late at night or the following morning.
HRAN added that its investigation revealed that the woman lodged in the hotel with the children for more than two years, exposing them to all kinds of sexual conducts by other adults lodging in the hotel.
The group said that the girl was allowed access to the internet and accessing sites not suitable for underaged children, adding that the girl had an account on Tik-Tok where she uploads adult related contents.
According to the group, men, including the hotel owner, pay regular visits to the room occupied by the minors and their mother, whenever the mother is not around.
HRAN also expressed suspicion that the woman may be involved in child trafficking, alleging that there were under aged girls in the hotel premises working as commercial sex workers.
The NGO, thereafter, asked the police to investigate the matter with a view to save the endangered child and bring the culprits to book.
However, after reading the petition at the Force CID, the manager of the hotel and the restaurant operator declined making any response except in the presence of their lawyer.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Hotel, Mr Eze Obasi, refuted the allegation, saying “I am a good Christian and a traditional title holder in my community.
“As such, I cannot be a party to sexual exploitation, abuse, or endangerment of underage girls in my hotel.
“All I know is that the woman in question was being maltreated by her husband and she came to the hotel with her children to seek refuge from her abusive husband.
“This complaint has been brought before me by four different groups and it has been settled.
“I do not understand why police officers will still come to the hotel to embarrass my clients in the name of police search for minors,” he said.
NAN reports that after the raid that ended around 8:30 p.m., the young minor and the mother were not found at the hotel.