What Nigerians should know about prostitution in Ohio

Prostitutes on the street prostitution

The United States Government has accused three members of the Nigerian House of Representatives of sexual offences while on a visit to Ohio, Cleveland in April 2016 ‎for a leadership programme.

Those accused are Samuel Ikon (PDP Akwa Ibom), Mohammed Gololo (APC Bauchi) and Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue).

While Gololo was said to have grabbed a hotel housekeeper and asked her for sex, the other two were alleged to have requested the assistance of a parking attendant to solicit for prostitutes.

All three deny the allegations.

The American authorities have since cancelled the three lawmakers’ visas while Speaker of the House of Reps, Yakubu Dogara, has ordered an investigation into the allegation.

Prostitution is illegal in all jurisdictions in the United States with the exception of a few counties in Nevada where the commercial sex trade is legal.

The law differs from state to state. Rural states tend to have the strictest prostitution laws, whereas urban states tend to have more lenient prostitution laws.

Since the crime levelled against the Nigerian lawmakers was allegedly committed in Ohio, Cleveland, we are zeroing in on prostitution laws in the region.


In Ohio, it is a crime to buy or sell sex. Ohio also has laws against solicitation and loitering for the purpose of prostitution.

A person commits the crime by engaging in any sexual activity for payment. Sexual activities includes anal, oral, and vaginal sex, and sexual touching.

Money, gifts, favors, and other compensation are considered payment.


In Ohio, it is also a crime to solicit a person to engage in sexual activity in exchange for money.

For example, a person who asks another or offers to pay another to engage in sex for money is guilty of solicitation.


Ohio also criminalises loitering for the purpose of prostitution. A person commits the crime of loitering by doing any of the following things in or near a public place (including a driveway or doorway) for the purpose of soliciting someone to engage in prostitution:

i. Gesturing to, stopping, or trying to stop someone

ii. Engaging or trying to engage someone in conversation

iii. Stopping, trying to stop, or approaching the driver of a car

iv. Stopping, gesturing to, or getting a person to approach or enter a car, or

v. Blocking a person’s movement.

For example, a person who gets another person to enter his or her car for the purpose of prostitution is guilty of loitering.

Pimping and pandering

Laws against pimping (making money from the prostitution of others) and pandering (facilitating or assisting the prostitution of others) are aimed at third parties who benefit from prostitution.

Under Ohio’s laws, it is a crime to compel or promote the prostitution of another, or to procure or find a prostitute or a customer.


Prostitution, loitering, and solicitation are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

If a person uses a vehicle to commit (or attempt to commit) solicitation, the defendant’s driver’s license can also be suspended for six months.

People convicted of prostitution, solicitation, and loitering may be required to submit to mandatory testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, at their own expense.

Being convicted of prostitution or a related crime can have serious consequences, including time in jail or prison, fines, and restrictions on where you can work.


There are escort agencies which claim that they provide members of the opposite sex for social or conversational service rather than a sexual service. It is however common knowledge that such arrangements often end between the sheets. To be sure you are not being set up for prostitution; never negotiate a price for sex with an escort. The agency should have taken care of that.