Kano, for ages, has been battling with issues surrounding drug abuse as well as prostitution by young girls among other social vices mostly practiced by the younger generation.
It is an issue that has been on the watch list of several law enforcement agencies in the state, especially as Kano is one of the Sharia complaint states.
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Subsequent government administrations in the past have played one role or the other in the fight against these social vices which resulted in the establishment of agencies like the Hisbah Board (colloquially tagged the Islamic police) which was established mainly for the purpose of implementing some programs in respect of Sharia implementation in the state.
According to the Board, areas identified as hotspots for drug use and prostitution include event and viewing centres situated at Lamido Crescent, Alu Avenue, Abdullahi Bayero Road, Gwarzo roads and Kabuga area, as well as Kano Zoological Garden. This is aside several roads and joints in the Sabongari area of the city that have always been notorious for these social vices.
The Hisbah Deputy Commander General, Hussaini Ahmad Chediyar Kuda, who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday on behalf of the Commander General in Kano, Harun Ibn Sina, said “From the yuletide season to presently (within 2 months) Hisbah has raided many places including hotels, motels, guest inns and lounges in the state, leading to the arrest of several young girls and boys and confiscation of illicit drugs and alcoholic drinks.
“Within these 2 months, we have arrested at least 1,400 young girls in hotels; at lounges, we have over 300 boys.
“We also have people arrested on the streets while walking but high on drugs and those who are tired of the way and surrendered themselves to the board. We have over 100 of them.
“There’s one thing that is happening also, sometimes after they engage in their unholy act, they will drop the girls near Hisbah gate for us to pick them.
“When we investigate the issue; trying to ascertain the culprits, what you will get to see is so embarrassing and unfortunate. You find people who you hardly think will do something like that trapped in the middle of it.
“Young boys can be lectured and put back to righteous ways but people who have spent almost their life doing this could hardly repent. This is the major challenge. Most of them are influential people in town.”
Residents also told Daily Trust on Sunday that the situation has deteriorated to the extent that it is now common to see young women standing by the sides of the roads within Nasarawa GRA, waiting to be picked up by men for immoral activities.
While the cause of the menace is not solely associated with all event centres and public places in the state, the most pronounced and patronized places are not hidden to the public.
Concerned over the growing trend in drug abuse and prostitution in the city, the state government recently inaugurated a Task Force Committee to regulate activities of operators of hotels, motels, guest houses, restaurants, event centres, travelling agencies, viewing centres as well as recreational centres.
Among other things, the committee is saddled with the mandate of “curbing the menace of drug abuse and prostitution among young girls, taking place in such public places.”
The committee is chaired by Baffa Babba Dan Agundi, the current Managing Director of KAROTA, who earlier also held sway as acting chairman of the state Consumer Protection Council (CPC).
Speaking to Daily Trust on Saturday on condition of anonymity, an event centre operator where young people meet to hangout and use these drugs, said the regulation of the centre will only result in collecting more taxes from them but the issue of curtailing the menace of drug abuse or prostitution can never be realised.
“Let me tell you, we are not afraid of anyone coming to stop our operations. This is our business. And talking about raid and the likes, it is only when you have problem or when you are not settling some people from these agencies that they do that to you.
“Just look around, some of us in Kano have even policemen guarding our places and that gives our customers more assurance for security and increases patronage,” he said.
Another business owner, who also preferred not to be mentioned, said they are ready to meet any government policy so far they will remain in business.
“But, the issue of curbing drug abuse and prostitution is a matter of misplacement of the right channel by the government.
“We are not the ones initiating these young ones into the act, we only provide an environment for them to relax and enjoy themselves.
“The government should campaign through the media and other means to solve this problem. They should find a better way to do it,” he said.
Musa Kamal (not real name) is a drug user, who accuses the regulators for allowing the drugs to be accessible for public consumption.
“Let me tell you the fact; the big men are also among us. Visit some of these places late in the evenings and see how they patronize the so-called prostitutes while others send their boys to pick them up. Of course, they are all young girls mostly in their early and late twenties.
“They should first regulate how these things are brought into the state. Then from there, they can take a step. Some of us are not enjoying how our life has turned out but one has to enjoy himself,” Kamal, who seem to be under the influence of drugs while interacting with one of our reporters, said.
But the Chairman of the government’s new Task Force Committee, Baffa Babba Dan Agundi, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the committee has invited all the stakeholders involved in all these places and had a meeting with them, discussed extensively and have agreed on modalities to work.
“They promise to co-operate and work with us, the government and the committee.
“We already have about 10 operational vehicles to be used in going round and that’s one very important machinery in discharging the assignment.
“We will visit every place, recreational centres, every hotel to make sure things are done in order. We will put informants across everywhere to make sure things are followed by the rules of the law governing the Tourism Board and I hope we will not have issues with anybody because I know they are all responsible businessmen who promise to comply with the directives given by the government and the law.
“The registration just started on Monday and in a month’s time, we will report how far we have gone.”
With the boosting of internally generated revenue (IGR) also part of the mandates of the committee, the Managing Director Kano Tourism Board, Yusuf Ibrahim Lajawa, said so far, the number of registered hotels under the board stands at 145, paying registration fee of between N500,000 and N1m with over 200 unregistered.
“Registered restaurants are 85 paying according to their groups; A, B and C, N100,000, N50,000 and N30,000 with over 300 unregistered.
“Recreational centres stand at 20 in two groups paying N150,000 and N120,000 with many also unregistered.
“Registered Event centres are currently 80 paying according to four groups N150,000, N100,000, N50,000 and N30,000 with over 200 unregistered.
“And finally, registered Travel agencies in the state are 50 paying around a million naira with over 100 operating unregistered,” he said.
On the part of revenue generation to the state, the Committee Chairman added that their operations will, “definitely boost the IGR because they are all new things that go into the state revenue which the law says and it will yield the expected result.”
Reacting to the insinuations of raid teams skipping places that are guarded by armed security officials, he said “Just wait and see when we start our operations; people will see when we skip anywhere.”