HomeWorldBBC Africa Eye uncovers Nigeria’s most-feared organised crime group, ‘Black Axe’

BBC Africa Eye uncovers Nigeria’s most-feared organised crime group, ‘Black Axe’

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Black Axe
Black Axe

BBC Africa Eye investigates Black Axe, one of the most feared and powerful organised crime groups in Nigeria.  

This highly secretive organisation – referred to as a “cult” in Nigeria – has been accused of countless murders and millions of dollars of internet fraud.

For years Nigerians have wondered, is the group linked to politicians? A two-year investigation by BBC Africa Eye has uncovered evidence that this may be true. 

Through interviews with Black Axe members and analysing thousands of secret documents – which appear to have been hacked from Black Axe’s private communications – the investigation suggests the criminal group has spread around the world and infiltrated the political sphere.

One former senior Black Axe member, Dr John Stone, told the BBC politicians work hand in hand with Black Axe, claiming they “cannot survive without the Black Axe there. They must collaborate with the Black Axe for them to survive”.  

According to Dr Stone, Black Axe have infiltrated “all levels of Nigerian society.” 

In an interview with the BBC, Tony Kabaka – a youth leader with the APC party – claimed that cultists were operating in the heart of government. “Cultism still exists because government is involved. That is the truth,” he said. 

He claims “most police, most politicians, almost everybody is involved.”

The source of the hacked documents claims Black Axe are desperate to kill him. He uses the pseudonym Uche Tobias, and takes extreme measures to hide his identity from the Axemen. 

The BBC undertook a months’ long process to independently verify that Tobias’s documents are real. Not all the material could be sourced, but the BBC were able to verify large swaths of the data – confirming that individuals mentioned and crimes committed in the documents did take place.   

Tobias claims: “Politicians reach out to the black axe, mobilise young people, and for that they are promised money and they are promised roles within the government. So, when elections come around, you just have more and more cultists getting into positions of power through this nepotism and corruption…There are members in the government today that don’t want this information to come out”.  

The leaked documents seen by the BBC implicate a number of Nigerian politicians, from both major political parties. BBC Africa Eye put these allegations to the politicians concerned, but they did not respond.  

Black Axe emerged out of a student fraternity known as the Neo Black Movement of Africa (NBM) at the University of Benin in 1977. The group was initially aimed at promoting black consciousness and civil rights. 

Over time, Black Axe evolved into the organised crime group known today. No-one knows the exact scale of their atrocities. According to police in one state in southern Nigeria, 90% of cult-related murders are undocumented.  

Black Axe are known for violent initiation rituals and strict codes of silence. Being a member is illegal in Nigeria, with a possible jail sentence of up to 21 years in some states. 

In recent months, the FBI and the US Secret Service have arrested more than 35 alleged Black Axe members in the USA and South Africa – charged with millions of dollars of internet fraud. The cult has spread around the world.  

Watch full documentary below:

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