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  On the 13th of December, the African Eye of the BBC did a documentary on Nigeria’s most dreaded mafia-style gang, The Black Axe. As of the writing of this article, the video which was premiered on YouTube on December 13, 2021, has generated over 470,209 views. The 52 minutes, 10 seconds video documentary is probably the longest exposition on the secret, yet openly notorious syndicate group. The “Black Axe” has featured in the ugliest history of violence in Nigeria as an ultra-violent group that was and is popular for causing mayhem, destruction of lives and property, and other atrocities in Nigeria, especially in the universities of the federation. Today they are on the streets and secondary schools. They are known as “fraternities” and “cults”, they have been outlawed in Nigeria. The BBC African Eye has been investigating the Black Axe for the past two years, interviewing former members and perusing through thousands of documents that were believed to be hacked from a prominent member of the group. The documentary not only had spine-shrilling videos of initiation ceremonies by the Black Axe, but also gory images of killings, murders, and assassinations by the syndicate. The unnamed African Eye investigator visited two locations – Lagos and Benin – known for Black Axe’s notorious activities. The Mokoko and Ikorodu areas of Lagos were visited. The documentary covered several initiation ceremonies in Makoko, where cult members claimed that they are backed and funded by the politicians who use them to either settle scores, rig elections, such as ballot snatching or assassinate rivals. One of the members of the Black Axe, his face masked, claimed that the syndicate is emboldened by the backing of the government. He claimed that they were given monetary gifts, cars, and houses – and even more scary, weapons – by these politicians. The video saw members of this dreaded group, between the ages of 18 and 40, wielding shotguns, matches, pistols, and daggers. In Ikorodu, the group was reported to have wrecked terror on the residents of the area. Due to the inability of the Nigerian security operatives to protect them, the residents took laws into their hands by setting up a counter-terrorist vigilante group known as the “Onyeabo,” whose power and terror equally matched that of the Black Axe. The documentary was gracious enough, despite the risk involved, to lead us into one of the raiding operations of Onyeabo. There, we watched as suspected members of the syndicate were caught and arrested with a promise to hand them over to the police. However, in the past, the vigilante group executed caught members of the group. Further, the BBC African Eye captured the sad stories of women who had lost male members of their families not limited to fathers, sons, and brothers.
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The next location visited was Benin City, the alleged headquarters of the syndicate group. The BBC African Eye visited the University of Benin, where the alleged group was formed in the 1980s. It interviewed Dr John Stone, a Political Science Lecturer in the same university. Dr Stone was a former member of the Black Axe, who was a Chairman and was prior a “butcher” whose job was to kill intruders to protect the group. The professor claimed that members of the cult group are backed and funded by the politicians, who use the organization to settle scores, rig elections such as ballot snatching, political assassinations, and cause widespread mayhem. The academic further stated that the Neo-Black Movement of Africa which claimed to be a freedom movement and legally recognized as an institution in the country is nothing but a smokescreen for the demonic and outlawed Black Axe to continue to perpetuate their devious operations. Dr Stone called NBM an alias of the Black Axe. The Movement of Africa has members who are political leaders in the executive, judicial and legislative arms of government, pastors, and professionals, and so on. The Movement is a platform to penetrate every human sphere possible. The academic confessed he regrets his actions and has taken decisive steps to end this social vice through his organization, Rainbow Coalition, which consists of former cultists, professors, and activists. While the NBM has been described as an outlawed group in the United States after several cases of fraud and violence, the group still operates at large in Nigeria as a legal entity. The NBM claims to have three million members around the world and regularly publicizes charitable activity – donations to orphanages, schools, and the police, both in Nigeria and abroad. In another development, despite its notoriety of violence, the Black Axe has been allegedly involved in internet fraud and scams. The BBC African Eye was able to comb through thousands of hacked documents linking the syndicate group with cases of advanced fee fraud. Despite not being able to go through all the documents, key documents were verified by the BBC. Popular among them was the email of a prominent Nigerian businessman, Augustus Bemigho, who was a 2019 APC party candidate for political office. He was allegedly a senior member of Black Axe and was involved in orchestrating fraudulent internet scams netting millions of dollars. When he was contacted over the matter, he did not respond. Finally, the documentary continues to showcase how much economic, political, moral, psychological, and even emotional destruction the Black Axe has wrought in Nigeria and abroad. Sadly, this group is owned, funded, and run by powers that be. It is today a globally acclaimed syndicate. Featured Image Source: BBC
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This article was first published on 17th December 2021


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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