The News (Lagos)

9 April 2002

Nigeria: Porn in Port Harcourt

Port Harcourt — An unrestrained appetite for pornographic publication grips teenagers in the nation's garden city

Tamuno Fynecountry, a 15-year old SSS I student of OMPADEC Science Centre, Rumuola Road, Port-Harcourt, beams with unrestrained gaiety as he relishes the salacious images in the recent edition of Hotmate porno-magazine on top of his desk.

The seriousness of Tamuno's gaze at the photographs can only be compared to the concentration of a star gazer trying to achieve a hypnotic hold on his crystal ball.

Soon the material is circulated round the classroom, the boys and girls giggle and jiggle in animated amoral excitement as they all catch glimpses of what the latest edition of the highly pornographic periodical has in store for them.

Somewhere at the Popular Mile I newspaper stand, a young lady, ostensibly in her early 20s, walks up to one of the vendors. She makes an unusual gesture at the newspaper man and the vendor produces a copy of Nipples magazine alongsides an unbranded edition of a raw pornographic leaflet replete with real pictures of exotic sex postures, which one of the readers described as 'banging gymnastics.'

The above encounters clearly depict the trend in the Garden City of Port Harcourt which is fast losing its serenity to chaotic traffic and human congestion.

Already a booming market for regular prostitutes and free girls, courtesy of the retinue of oil industry staff and expatriates in the city, armed with enough petrol-dollars to throw around, Port Harcourt is fast becoming a veritable outlet for pornographic magazines, leaflets and all other forms of erotic publications intended to appeal to the erogenous senses.

Investigation reveals that while some teenagers take delight in stocking porno libraries with latest publications, others spend their time in business centres with internet facilities where they visit sex sites on the web. Published on a weekly basis by a bunch of faceless publishers with no form of address on the publication's mast heads, the magazines come under different names and appeal.

While the well known ones like Better Lover, Moving Tales and Sex Action seek to downplay the pornographic content of their periodicals with romantic stories and fairy tales, others like Hotmate, Virgins, Nipples and Tickles leave no one in doubt as to what their intentions are. They come in hot, clear photographs with apt demonstrations of different and sometimes unachievable sexual postures and acrobatics. Conversely, while a copy of the moderate Better Lover goes for N80 the outlandish Hotmate is sold for N150 per copy.

Explaining the upsurge in the demand and supply of porno-magazines in the city, Okoroafor, a porn-vendor with over 10 years experience attributes the trend to the quest for new ideas among readers. "Yes it is true that our business is booming and the reason for this is quite simple, people are getting tired of reading serious things. They want something that would make them relax.

The average Rivers man wants to enjoy himself, he does not like trouble so if you want your paper to sell, come up with good pictures and a fine story that they can relate with."

The vendor explained that the porno-business has moved from the pre- 1999 stage to a more sophisticated level. "In those days it used to be Ikebe Super, Lolly and Dauda, the sexy guy. What we sell now is just an updated version of it.

"With the advantage of the internet the publishers have access to live colour pictures which they download for use.

At the popular bush market/Nsukka road axis which is the hub of newspaper business in Port-Harcourt, Ade (not real name), a well known distributor of porno-materials attributes the increase in sales to the good marketing strategy of the publishers. "The stories are well written and also well packaged. They don't just show pictures alone as before, what they do now is to present a graphic narrative of what led to what, infact the preliminaries of any sex encounter you see on the magazine are well presented. And they now come in special nylon packs like the Ovation magazine."

Ironically, while the vendors and the porno-merchants doff their hats and thank the Almighty for the good naira rain, Pastor Dele Bamgboye of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) Port Harcourt, blames the porno-orgy on the sinful propensities of the average man. "I think it is a serious problem. The issue of pornography can't be solved by societal ideals or police raids on the merchants. But rather it has to do with the nature of man itself."

The clergyman explains that only divine intervention and acceptance of God in his true nature can solve the problem.

"I don't have a flair for pornography not because I don't see it, but I am not attracted. If one is not attracted, those who sell it would fall out of business."

However the young folks are not done with their patronage of the "good stuff" "You cannot catch AIDS by looking at a naked woman. No matter what the eyes see, it'll never shed blood."

Augustine Goodluck, an SSS II student of Stella Marris, Harbour Road, Port Harcourt, quipped as he made attempts to justify his visit to a porn site in a popular cyber cafe located in the Rumuokoro junction.

Goodluck's position is shared by 16 year-old Sam Onyebi of OMPADEC Science Centre. "I don't see anything wrong in it. It is not as if we spend all our money on it, you don't have to buy everything. Most times, we borrow and exchange among ourselves.

But we don't do anything here in OMPADEC compared to what happens in Government Girls Secondary School, Harbour road or Federal Government schools where they do it live.", Goodluck averred.

Dr. Jonah Eteh, lecturer at the Institute of Education, Rivers State University of Science and Technology sees nothing wrong in the arrant display of obscene materials in Port Harcourt.

"Who defines what is obscene or decent? Look, as an educationist, I can tell you that there is no scientific proof to show that exposure to obscene photographs is the cause of moral decadence in the society. So I am calling for a total liberalisation of all forms of literature that have to do with the subject.

Pornography Is Illegal

- Rivers Police spokesman

What is your comment on the arrant display of pornographic materials in most news stands in the streets of Port Harcourt.

A: Let me be frank with you, we are not white men, we are Africans. Before I delve into the issue of law, our environment, our customs and tradition had forbidden these things before we were born and we should know that is our custom. But again, I am happy that the white man even inserted it in his own law books "open display of pornographic materials is an offence." I want to tell you that there is an ongoing case; weeks ago someone was arrested with large volumes of pornographic materials, the case is still in court.

Q: Is he a newspaper vendor?

A: He is not even a vendor. Unfortunately, he displayed the materials where an enlightened person saw him. Enlightened and concerned person of course. You see, the problem with this country is the material thing everybody is pursuing; it is not as if people don't know what the law says, but a typical Nigeria would ask you "wetin I go gain inside this. If them arrest am, wetin concern me inside?". Because he is not satisfied within himself, he is not being adequately taken care of by those who are supposed to do so, he goes his way in search of means of livelihood and is less concerned about issues like this. But these things are there in the law books. You'll discover that even the reading culture in this country is very low.

Section 232 of the criminal code clearly forbids that.

The average Nigerian is a die hard. Once he knows that what he is doing is illegal, he strives to put in his best. The issue of obscene publications is alien to our culture just like the issue of makossa/mapoka dance which I am advocating should be banned. Yes, we can listen to the music but our ladies should not be allowed to go nude in public places just because they are dancing. It is so obscene, it is repulsive it's an eye sore. You see a well dressed girl, next minute, she's on pants.

Q: Why is pornography selling like hot cake?

A: Let me tell you the truth, the truth is clear. Going to heaven is like going through the narrow path; going to hell is a straight road. So you can understand that pornography has to sell like hot cake because it is what they have told you not to do.

Q: Are you saying if we liberalise it people would lose interest since they will no longer have to hide because some of the pleasures lie in stealing it.

A: I am not advocating such. I want to remain a hard liner on this issue. And I believe that the police should be well equipped to combat this new menace.

Q: What are the problems you have in combating the promoters of these materials in Port Harcourt?

A: Let me thank you for your observation. But I must be frank with you. In Port Harcourt today, we are having two major problems, traffic and combating armed criminals. That of combating armed criminals, I think we are succeeding years after because we apply preventive measures.

But that of traffic and the upsurge in urban development, almost everyday, people move in to Port Harcourt every day, development is moving very fast. Companies move from Warri and Lagos to this city. I went to somewhere and was surprised to see how developed the area is now. So the issue of pornography has not been very prominent. But now that you've raised it, I think my men should be able to work out and know that they are crimes in their own grounds and anybody arrested should be treated as a criminal because the effect on our youths is very bad.

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