Italian police on Monday said it has arrested 30 Nigerian mafia members in 14 provinces across the country. The head of one of the Nigerian mafia’s biggest gangs was arrested in the operation, police said, adding that it has “apprehended the leader of a major organisation,” the police said in a statement. The operation, Black Axe, was targeted at Italy’s Nigerian mafia and stems from a probe in L’Aquila, the capital of the Abruzzo region, Italian news agency ANSA reported on Monday. The police said those arrested have been charged with mafia association, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, prostitution, ‘romantic fraud’, Internet fraud and money laundering. They face almost 100 charges, police said. The recent arrests come about five months after a sweeping operation where police arrested 74 members of the Nigerian mafia, and claimed to have arrested the group leader, 50-year-old Emmanuel “Boogye” Okenwe. About 200 officers targeted Boogye’s gang in Turin and Ferarra. The self-styled “King of Ferrara” headed the gang known as the ‘Arobaga Vikings’ or ‘Norsemen Kclub International.’ Turin has been the center of the Nigerian mafia in Italy for over a decade, Sergio Nazzaro, an Italian journalist, writer and adviser to the Parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission, said. Nazzaro recently published a book on Nigerian criminal organizations that have established a strong foothold in Italy. In some areas those groups have even grown strong enough to muscle out native Italian crime groups, like the Camorra, Ndranghetta and Cosa Nostra. The Nigerian mafia often controls the day-to-day street crimes, while the more established Italian groups have their hands busy with larger scale corruption and white collar crime.
Nigeria’s insecurity issues saw a deluge over the weekend as Boko Haram insurgents made inroads into Niger State, gunmen killed two students of Greenfield University in Kaduna state, the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, saw students kidnapped, and a family was butchered in Anambra State. In Kebbi State, the police said nine of their personnel were killed by bandits in Sakaba LGA. In Niger State, the state Governor, Sani Bello, in an interview, said Boko Haram terrorists had taken over a part of the state, hoisting their flag in Kaure village from where they had made incursions into more than 50 villages. Governor Bello said Abuja was not safe with Boko Haram’s presence in Niger State. He warned that the Boko Haram terrorists were trying to make Kaure their home and headquarters like they did in Sambisa forest, adding that while Sambisa forest is several kilometres away from Abuja, Kaure is only two hours drive to Abuja. In Benue State, the Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Richard Kimbir, said four students were kidnapped while reading near a lecture theatre. The kidnappers have asked for N20 million in ransom payments. In Kaduna State, bandits attacked Kofar Kuyambana Low Cost Housing Estate in Zaria and kidnapped two housewives. The police, vigilantes and other security operatives responded swiftly, battled the bandits and arrested five of them. The two women are still missing. The attack was the fifth in the state within a week. On 11 March kidnappers attacked the Greenfield University, along Kaduna-Abuja road killing a staff member and kidnapping 23 students, five of whom have since been killed, including two whose bodies were found on Monday. Meanwhile, Nafi’u Abubakar, the Kebbi State police spokesman confirmed the killing of nine of its personnel including a divisional police officer by bandits in Sakaba LGA. In Lagos, motorcycle riders, mainly from the North of the country, clashed with transport workers, mainly Yoruba in ethnicity, in the Iyana-Iba suburb. Six people are feared to have been killed. In Anambra, the police confirmed an attack on a Fulani family in Igbariam community of Oyi LGA. Gunmen attacked a storey building housing the Fulani herders in the community around 0200 hours Monday. The criminals killed 12 women, seven men and an undisclosed number of children. Finally, five security officers including two soldiers were killed at the weekend by suspected separatists in Nigeria’s oil hub of Port Harcourt according to a police memo. The capital of southern oil-rich Rivers state, Port Harcourt, borders southeast Nigeria which has seen a surge in deadly attacks targeting the police and other security forces in the past few months. A police internal memo said “armed men believed to be Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) members attacked a Joint Task Force (JTF) checkpoint, made up of nine police and two soldiers”. The police memo said the attacks took place in two locations in Port Harcourt on Saturday, and that two burnt corpses were recovered in one location while three were recovered in another. It said the gunmen seized two rifles and two vans during the attacks. The police, which has not commented publicly on the incidents, said it had launched a manhunt to find those responsible for the attack. The Nigeria Customs Service confirmed the killing of “three of our operatives” in the area.
Nigeria’s government has ordered the immediate suspension of a Channels TV programme for interviewing the spokesperson of a separatist group, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra. In a letter addressed to the managing director of the TV station on Monday, Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission, said the privately-owned television station breached the broadcasting code by allowing IPOB spokesperson, Emma Powerful, to make “secessionist and inciting” declarations on air without caution or reprimand. The IPOB leader was featured on a popular Channels TV programme, Politics Sunday aired on Sunday. Idachaba added that the station will also pay a fine of ₦5 million ($10,417) for breaching the recently-amended broadcasting code. “[The IPOB leader] also made derogatory, false and misleading statements about the Nigerian Army,” the letter reads. “This is reprehensible, especially that IPOB remains a proscribed organisation as pronounced by the law courts of the land. This much Channels ought to know and respect.” Idachaba added that the station needs to be ethical and professional “especially at times of crisis”. The Nigerian Government declared IPOB a terror organisation in September 2017 after a series of violent face-offs between the group and security agents.
French energy giant, Total SE, has suspended its $20 billion liquefied natural gas project in Mozambique indefinitely due to an escalation of violence in the area, including a March attack by Islamic State-linked militants. The decision is a blow to Total, which bought an operating stake in the project for $3.9 billion in 2019, hoping to start exporting the super-chilled fuel by the end of 2024. The first phase of the project is designed to produce over 13 million tons of LNG a year. Total was resuming work on the project last month, after it was stalled since January because of security threats, as more than 100 rebels raided the town of Palma near the site. Dozens of people died, millions of dollars of property was damaged and the company immediately froze plans to resume the project. The worsening security situation is also a major setback for Mozambique, which is facing a rising death toll with hundreds of thousands of people displaced. Exports of the fuel could help transform the economy of one of the world’s poorest nations. The fresh violence in the north of the Cabo Delgado province “leads Total, as operator of Mozambique LNG project, to declare force majeure,” the company said in a statement on Monday. That’s “the only way to best protect the project interest, until work can resume.” Project finance remains in effect and “Mozambique LNG has agreed with lenders to temporarily pause the debt drawdown,” Total said. The force majeure gives Total “a lot of breathing room” with the construction companies and buyers of the gas, while increasing pressure on the Mozambican government to resolve the security situation, said Darias Jonker, Africa director at Eurasia Group. That will take community engagement as well as intelligence resources to remove the insurgency, he said. “Overall the downward trajectory of the situation continues.” Force majeure is a provision that allows parties to suspend or end contracts because of events that are beyond their control, such as wars or natural disasters. The Mozambican state had been hoping to reap nearly $100 billion in revenue over 25 years from LNG projects. Earlier delays have already caused the IMF to scale back its economic growth forecasts for the nation.