Authorities roll out measures as criminals, call girls take over National Stadium

Authorities roll out measures as criminals, call girls take over National Stadium

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The National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, which used to be the pride of the nation, is in shambles, having succumbed to terrible ignoble tendencies and activities, lack of maintenance and mismanagement.

The facility, which is one of the oldest stadia in Nigeria, has lost a lot of pedigree and glory that it was reputed for, having played host to great national and international sporting activities and/or competitions.

In fact, the magnitude of the criminal tendencies and activities going on at the place have eclipsed the real sporting activities that the stadium was meant for, as it has almost been taken over by people of questionable characters.

Whenever the story of any stadium in the African sub-region, that is worth its onions was written, the name of National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, was always written in gold. But the reverse is now the case, as the gigantic sporting facility has degenerated to a place of filth and a colony of reptiles, criminals and illegal activities.

The facility, which has been abandoned and put up for privatisation by the Ministry of Sports, has indeed become a haven for thieves, gamblers, call girls, night crawlers, fraudsters

The Point’s recent visit to the place confirmed that the entire palatial premises have been overtaken by weeds, with different reptiles now contesting for office spaces with the stadium officials.

The main turf is a sorry sight, as the tartan track is in bad shape. All the plastic seats are almost gone. The swimming pool, too, is in bad shape, due to the lack of fund to maintain it.

Only recently, some group of people started work on the pool to put it in top shape, but they are yet to really make it clean and neat for use. The toilets are unkempt and emit foul odour from time to time. Only the Sports Federation building, the Nigeria Olympic Committee secretariat, the Lagos State Sports Writers Association building, the National Associations edifice, the tennis courts, squash court and some training pitches that are still intact.

Also the sports shops rented by private individuals are well managed. The condition of the stadium is so terrible as it has become a centre of dirty deals by disgruntled elements, lawless and subversive individuals, who illegally eke out a living at the arena with impunity.

The facility, which has been abandoned and put up for privatisation by the Ministry of Sports, has indeed become a haven for thieves, gamblers, call girls, night crawlers, fraudsters, with sundry unpleasant occurrences happening in and around the environment.

When The Point visited the place in the dark of the night, it was bubbling with series of business deals by folks who have natural inclinations for making things happen in the night.

Area Boys with their penchant for diverse escapades at the stadium have turned the place to their permanent home and constitute a huge nuisance to the environment and the people around.

They resume at the arena very early in the morning, to watch out for rich men and sports personalities and beg them for money. Their targets are always the foreign-based athletes, who come to the stadium for important engagements.

Their escapades have earned them sobriquets such as ‘Landlord’ and ‘Original Omo Onile’ in the vicinity, so much so that you dare not do anything without their permission. They are important operators, who often serve as unofficial security officers at the stadium.

They are so much at home with current developments that journalists often use them as informants. They have every relevant information you are nosing around for. They give you the kind of information you have missed early in the morning, when you arrive the stadium to scramble for news.

At times, they wear the best clothes to look decent, especially during big events that attract eminent dignitaries from local and international communities. Though some of them have families and private businesses, they still prefer to come to the stadium to maraud and create unpalatable scenes.

There are about three groups of area boys in the stadium, grouped according to their standards and level of personalities.

It is business as usual for fraudsters who capitalise on the events at the stadium to swindle innocent people and smile to the bank after catching a big ‘fish.

The call girls:

They are better known as prostitutes and engage in illicit and amorous affairs at different popular corners and joints within the stadium. One of their trademarks is to lure men that are interested in their ‘service’ for a token.

Bent on accomplishing their mission, the smart ones among them would drag their ‘customers’ to nearby bushes for hot sex deal. However, those who come into the arena with cars like to have it at the back seat of their vehicles.

You can only notice such indecent exposure in the late hours of the night with their cars engines on but no light on. Call girls are into ‘business,’ as they usually work in institutions like brothels, although they may be on the employment of an escort agency.

Their operations are always based on appointment, usually by calling a telephone number. Call girls often use an intermediary advertiser to pin down their contacts. Suffice to say that the stadium has been turned to a brothel.

The Point also discovered that a desperate business individual has built a mini-hotel of bed size rooms around the place, which prostitutes now patronise for ‘customers.’ The stadium officials are not unaware of the untoward activities at the place, but they cared less, as they are also guilty of hiring the edifice to the perpetrators to make money. “All the steps under the main bowl have been converted to small rooms, where call girls practise prostitution,” a regular visitor to the arena told The Point.

The night crawlers:

Because of the night club inside the stadium, there are nocturnal folks that like to drink themselves to stupor and resort to dancing until day break. But no one is allowed to stay inside the stadium for more than a day after show, as the management now goes tough on the offenders.

Thieves:

There were allegations that armed robbers used to hide stolen goods inside the stadium and in order to curb the menace, security operators employed by the Ministry of Sports always monitor the movement of vehicles into the arena by giving out a disc with a tally number which registers the drivers and the vehicle present at the stadium. Based on the security arrangement, no one is allowed to move out any vehicle without presenting the disc or tally number.

This helps the security operatives to take the data of the numbers of the vehicles inside the stadium each day. If the disc or the tally number is not returned as expected, the security men then trace it to the number of vehicles still packed inside the stadium, and why they are still there. Any vehicle without the owner is never allowed to be taken out of the stadium.

Fraudsters’ meeting point:

The arena is usually the office of dubious individuals, who play on the intelligence of others to extort money from them. The people known as ‘419ers’ always hover around the stadium waiting for their victims. It is business as usual for fraudsters who capitalise on the events at the stadium to swindle innocent people and smile to the bank after catching a big ‘fish.’

Joggers at weekends:

Career men and women always like to date themselves at the weekend after sweating it out, jogging as well as engaging in trimming exercises at the stadium. Some smart young men capitalise on the jogging days to woo married women and ladies who are fond of getting a date after jogging at the arena.

The ladies also dress sexy to attract the opposite sex. They often show up with seductive pants and tight training suits that expose their boobs and curves to make men fall for them.

It takes only disciplined men to escape the wave of temptation that such seductive appearance subject them to during physical exercises. The atmosphere is always filled with festivities, as some people bring good food, snacks, drinks and disc jockeys to make the arena lively. Love songs and romantic blues are on the menu to add flavour to the whole atmosphere.

Big shots in the community are always at the stadium on Saturday morning to ease tension and anxiety. And you would be amazed to see the calibre of people who throng the place for physical and strenuous shows at the weekend.

The arena is always filled with different types of sleek cars. The level of crowd that surge into the stadium at the weekend sometimes betray it as hosting a very big sporting competition.

Management’s intervention:

The stadium management has warned fans not to turn the arena to personal homes, because they are expected to go back home after the daily training programmes.

Also, security guards have been positioned at strategic places within the complex to arrest those who violate the directive and loiter around after training. According to the management, a stadium is not a residential place.

It said that people are free to use the facility for training, but must not abuse the privilege, adding that anybody caught by the guards, loitering or sleeping anywhere after training would be handed over to the police.

When contacted to speak on the allegations, Director of Facilities in Sports Ministry, Engineer Ibrahim Shehu, refused to talk to The Point. All efforts to track him down proved abortive.

Abandoned boxing ring

The stadium management in Lagos were also hiding under the shadows of the director as they directed The Point to Abuja for more clarifications on the National Stadium. They said only Shehu has the mandate to talk on the national stadia.

“Everybody is keeping his or her head here. Nobody will talk to you. Just write on what you have seen. We have heard that Lagos State government has been working on how to take over the stadium, but we did not know how far they have gone on that.

The main bowl of the stadium needs proper renovation. We hope the dream will not die,” a staff of the Sports Ministry, who did not want his name mentioned told The Point.

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