"We have repeatedly asked them to stop operations but they refused. If you come here at night, you will (see) about 5, 000 people in a place that should have contained 500 people even in pre-COVID-19 era."
Bulldozers returned to Dakibiu, a suburb of Abuja, Nigeria's capital on Tuesday, about four months after authorities demolished some popular brothels within the area that were tagged illegal structures.
The chairman Federal Capital Territory (FCT), taskforce on COVID-19, Attah Ikharo, said the brothels operators attracted the wrath of the authorities by their violation of the COVID-19 safety protocols inside the structures, which are illegal, in the first place.
"We have repeatedly asked them to stop operations but they refused. If you come here at night, you will (see) about 5, 000 people in a place that should have contained 500 people even in pre-COVID-19 era," the official said.
He said their operations are endangering lives and aiding the spread of the disease amid the second wave of the pandemic.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how in late last September the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCDA) arrived in Dakibiu with bulldozers and demolished several structures mostly brothels, a booming market in the area.
Dakibiu is a suburb within the Jabi area of Abuja, known as a discreet haven for fun-seekers. Back in 2016, a PREMIUM TIMES investigation revealed how several brothels in the area were attracting many visitors seeking fun.
The three most popular brothels in the area are Chris garden, Gidan drama and Gidan Karuwe. The latter two are run by Hausa socialites. They were all levelled in late September.
But within a few weeks after the demolition in defiance to warnings by the FCT authorities, proprietors of the Gidan drama and Gidan Karuwe re-erected the destroyed structures and went back to business attracting Tuesday's second demolition.
Gidan drama and Gidan Karuwe are located directly opposite the code of conduct tribunal in Jabi. As early 9 a.m., the area was already flooded with people, including shop owners who were trying to cart away their properties as the bulldozers moved straight into the brothels.
The police, officials of the FCDA, and scores of journalists all thronged the area, which is usually serene in the morning.
Owners of the brothels were still packing their belongings when the exercise started. Within 15 minutes, the structures were demolished.
Some of the sex workers watched in agony as their former abode was pulled down.
"This place is what they call Gida Ndrama and Gida Ndebiu, a wrestling and a drama zone that has thousands of persons visiting everyday, even with the second wave of COVID-19", Mr Ikharo explained.
"We demolished this place at least twice last year but they always come back after a few weeks or months. We have been begging them to leave since last December but they refused so what we have to come here to do is to clear the area and remove the illegal structures that give them shade to do all kinds of things," he said.
"The problem is that the more we clear up the area, they will still come back. It has reached a stage of the hunter and Eneke the bird. They are Eneke who have learned how to fly without perching, we the hunters have also learned how to shoot without missing."
The official criticised the owners of the brothels for making money at the risk of putting lives at risk.