July 25, 2016
(translated with Google translator)
For the first time a Sicilian court has acknowledged the existence of a foreign mafia on the island.
Last week, in fact, the Palermo Court issued convictions for attempted murder, robbery, injury, drug dealing and extortion with the aggravating circumstance of mafia methods against three Nigerian citizens, accused of being part of the Nigerian cult known as Black Axe.
Austine Ewosa, called Johnbull, who would be the head of the criminal group, Vitanus Emetuwa and Nosa Inofogha were sentenced to between 10 and 12 years and are linked to the gruesome crime story that kicked off the investigation of the Palermo investigators.
January 27, 2014, in a street in the center of Palermo, in the heart of the Ballarò quarter, the police found two Nigerian men seriously injured with an axe, with the upper part of the face marked by a deep gash.
Emeka Don, the victim of aggression by the Black Axe in 2014. (Screenshot via VICE on SkyTG24)
In an interview in an episode last season VICE on SkyTG24, Emeka Don, one of the two victims of the aggression of January 2014 constituted a civil trial, showed the glaring scars on his arms and face and spoke about the attack.
“[These people] have told me that they would give me 2,000 or 3,000 euro if I forgot the story,” said Emeka. “I told him no, that I could not, because they could do the same to others.”
The Black Axe, born in the seventies as a brotherhood in Nigerian universities, has turned into a violent criminal group with branches around the world, and particularly where there is a large Nigerian community.
In Nigeria the cult is known because it recruits new members by force, then clash with rival groups, abducting, raping and killing people linked to enemy brotherhoods – and often innocent people.
According to a 2007 report by Human Rights Watch, between 1996 and 2005 some 200 students and teachers of Nigerian universities have been killed by the violence of the Nigerian cults, the Black Axe and other groups.
With the expansion abroad, the Black Axe has expanded its operations and is responsible today for drug and arms trafficking, extortion, and murder related to this business.
And in Italy, in particular, their actions have assumed the characteristics of mafia methods.
“They are defined as a mafia because they are founded on intimidation and violence, even on a position of slavery,” the National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor Franco Roberti said in an interview for the documentary on VICE SkyTG24.
“They coexist in a sort of precarious balance with the Italian mafia organizations, which tolerate the presence of Nigerians and somehow exploit them well, because they often take the percentages on their illegal trafficking and then they admit the presence.”
Balance that would have been attested by the interception of conversations between the brothers Di Giacomo, important personalities of the Cosa Nostra in Palermo.
“[Nigerians] are respectful,” says one of them, Giuseppe Di Giacomo. “I will wait under the house to talk, ask … and then store them.”
But the power of what is now known as Nigerian Mafia is not limited only to Sicily.
In 2010 the Court of Turin sentenced 36 defendants Nigerians – belonging to the Black Axe and the rival group of Eiye – to sentences between 4 and 14 years in prison, with the recognition of the association to criminal mafia.
Even in Brescia in 2007, several members of the Nigerian criminal groups were convicted of Mafia association, in accordance with article 416 bis.
The center of their power in Italy, however, is in Castel Volturno in Campania, a clearinghouse for drug trafficking across the world, where the Black Axe operate sometimes together, sometimes competing with the Camorra.