Holy land by day, sin city by night •The story of Sharp corner in Sokoto
OLAKUNLE MARUF writes that a particular community just outside Sokoto known as Sharp Corner has dual identities with sharp contrasts, including the structures on ground there.
JUST five kilometers outside Sokoto, behind Giginya Army Barracks lies a community known as Sharp corner. Being so close to a military barrack is a plus security wise, given the general state of insecurity in the land and that probably is the reason it attracts many visitors.
A first time visitor to Sharp Corner, especially during the day, will definitely mistake it for a community of imams, priests and members of their congregations, due to the number of churches and mosques located in the environment. If anyone was looking for a place to frolic with women and indulge himself in drinking and carousing, the physical environment of Sharp Corner was enough to discourage such a person.
One can also describe the environment as a mini holiday resort due to the presence of many hotels of different categories. Given this situation, accommodation in the hotels is easily affordable to every category of lodgers, be they middle or lower class patrons.
Arewa Live’s visit to Sharp Corner is a study in sharp contrast. At the entrance to the community, by the road side, were different signposts identifying the churches situated there, some of which are branches of major churches known in the country.
From Redeemed Christian Church Of God to Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Christ Evangelical Church, Winners Chapel, Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Celestial Church of Christ and numerous other churches, the signposts detailed when their services and programmes hold.
A resident of Sharp Corner who identified himself as Raphael spoke with Arewa Live and confirmed that the churches actually have their programmes without coming in the way of the other.
According to Raphael: “Why are you surprised with the number of churches you see here? All these churches not only hold their services on Sundays, but also on weekdays. They normally have their fellowships, choir practices, vigils and many others you can think of without getting into one another’s ways.”
However, when Arewa Live visited again around 9.00 p.m, same day, it was a different situation altogether as what was seen was totally different from what took place during daytime. The atmosphere was boisterous, a complete beehive with loud music emanating from huge speakers mounted by owners of different shops and drinking joints that line the streets. Revelers were perpetually on the move from one end of the area to the other.
There were also ladies of different sizes and shapes calling on potential customers who had come to catch fun.
One of the ladies gave her name as Maryam from Niger State. Initially she was reluctant to talk except it was going to be about business. She later changed her mind, disclosing that she was in the trade to keep body and soul together.
“I joined this trade about five years ago when I lost my parents and no one to care for me. I spoke to one of my friends to help me get a job and she asked me to follow her somewhere in the evening. When I got here for the first time, I felt uncomfortable as I saw girls moving up and down with men. I went back home that day empty.
“After some days with no solution in sight to my predicament, I had no choice than to accept my fate by joining the other girls to hustle,” she stated.
Maryam, however, confirmed that she had no regret going into the profession ever since. Instead, she said, “I thank God, since I got into this profession, I have never regretted my decision. I have been able to pay my dues and attend to my growing responsibilities.
“I am sure you will be surprised with my statement but that is the truth, though it is bitter. I was around 19 years old when I lost my parents and I had no means of survival.
“After several attempts to find a way to survive with ordinary school certificate, nobody was ready to assist me. The few people who offered to help were actually demanding for my body in returns.
“After lots of pressure, I gave in to one Alhaji who promised to get me an ‘indigene letter’ and facilitate my enrollment into one ministry where I can also continue my education. To my surprise, after sleeping with me for up to three times, he stopped picking my calls and never called me back since then.
“That is exactly why I sat down and realised that I had to be responsible for my future and take on the challenges of life as they relate to me. After all someone just slept with me without giving me a penny and never fulfilled his promise.
“What will then happen if I make use of it for my benefit to cater for my needs. That was how I started this job. I can tell you now that in the next three months, I would have finished putting finishing touches to my business and thereafter quit this job to settle down.
“It will also interest you to know that I have enough suitors ready to take me as wife even when they know I’m into this job. Those who patronise us know we are far better than some of the girls in the town who claimed to be students.
“Any girl you see here is as clean as you can think of. No matter how much you intend to pay us, none of us will ever allow you to have sex (with us) without protection,” she boasted.
Also speaking with Arewa Live, Gift from Anambra State said she came to the state in 2017 after she heard of how lucrative the job is.
“It was a friend who asked me to come to Sokoto sometimes in 2017. I was in Kebbi by then but when I kept complaining to my friend that business was dull, she then advised me to come to Sokoto and experience the market here. My brother, I thank God for coming here o.
“Though the price we charge varies, on a good day we can charge a client or customer N1000 per shot. For some who are regulars here, we can collect N500 from them and one can easily get at least 10 or more customers in a day. For security reasons, we don›t follow any unknown customers home.
“It is also allowed for a client to sleep here with us but that is a different negotiation as well, but the least is N3000,” she explained.
Aren’t the girls always under the watchful eyes of security agencies? Gift said no and that “there is a good relationship with the law-enforcement agencies in which everyone respects their positions.”
One good thing about Sharp Corner is that it is peaceful and secure. Raphael, the resident, also confirmed this.
“Since I came to this area, I have always had rest of mind when it comes to security. I can tell you that for the last six years I have been in this area, I can›t ever remember anytime I witnessed any security breach. No single robbery case or any form of unrest has taken place.
“Also, maybe because this environment is highly inhabited by every tribe – Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and non-Nigerians – we all live like one family or relatives.
“Apart from this, most of these girls are not residents of this area but only come around in the night to ply their trade. This is why you hardly see such activities in the day time. This area is so cool and quiet during the day that a first-time visitor would easily fall in love with it,” he said.