The nigerian mafia between
voodoo and the computer
As we are used to exporting the national Mafia abroad, perhaps with complacent shame, (please forgive the contradiction), we have come to the realization, rather late, of the risk of foreign criminality in Italy. It has been underestimated - not perhaps, the dangers of certain manifestations of drug trafficking, clandestine immigration, prostitution exploitation and black labour, but I refer to the more general and composite transnational design.This paper proposes certain observations on the integrated Nigerian threat. Although many Analysts maintain that the structural glue of such a criminal matrix is the obsequious submission to a superstitious fideism, synthesized in the practice of voodoo and ju-ju, after a subsequent exploration, fundamental characteristics of a an even more complex and dangerous nature have emerged.
The horrifying discovery of the mutilated remains of a Nigerian boy in the waters of the Thames (1) , the cloning of an internet site bank - a common fund which unites prostitutes and their pimps in a perverse circle (2) - are only some aspects of a single criminal organization, the Nigerian matrix - able to plan, with indifference, atrocious homicides which are expressions of primitive rituals permeated with black magic elements, high technology informatics crimes, original and fantastic managerial and administrative initiatives applied to crime.
The Nigerian criminal versatility constitutes the emergence of a highly criminal system which cannot be circumscribed to the appreciable, but not exhaustive manifestations of drug trafficking and the trade of human beings. On the contrary, It is necessary to fully understand the scale of the deviant drift of the social and economic factors, of the religious and political aspects of the area of origin, which pervade the transnational projection of the profiteering - criminal networks.
It is necessary, therefore, to identify and analyse the typical elements of the complex Nigerian system. First, of a general order; the role of the Army, the different ethnic groups (3) and the petrol revenues. Second, of a religious order, mainly the growing integralism, and third, of a social order, the different aspects of political involvement in the powers of business. These problems increase the critical situation of the internal system which reverberate on foreign and international events.
The nigerian paradox:
a giant with feet of clay
The political force of Nigeria emerges distinctly from the regional leadership assumed by the Western Africa States Economic Community (ECOWAS) and the “New Partnership for the development of Africa”(NEFAD) (4) , which, at the moment, seems to compete only with South Africa. The strengthening of its role of economic and financial mediator in the sub-Saharan ‘scenario’ and its undoubted consequences on the international scene, are witnessed by the ‘go-ahead’ for commercially privileged relations with China, particularly in the oil business, in the transportation and mechanics supply fields.
The Nigerian giant has imposed itself in the African area, also lavishing a considerable commitment in the international missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone under the aegis of the Ecowas Intervention Forces (ECOMOG) and, more recently, in Darfur, under the African Union flag (5) , and what is more, presided by the Nigerian President, Obasanjo. (12) country (6) . As a consequence, the Army has been entrusted, on the one side, with the delicate function of containing the ceaseless domestic centrifugal thrusts and, on the other side, the promotion of a reliable and “muscular” symbol in the African (U.A.) (7) and international (U.N.O.) strategic assemblies. With this advantageous position, Nigeria has presented request for preferential rights in order to be included in the Security Council of U.N.O., as are Egypt and South Africa.
The recent and feverish history of Nigeria offers many clues for analysis. Some problems of today derive from the difficult structure of the country. In fact, since its independence, when it was founded upon three macro-regions (the Northern, Western and Eastern Regions), Nigeria has promoted a policy of progressive fragmentation which confers autonomy on the various individual states. However, the attribution of the sought after autonomy to the different regional actors, (straining to put the different tribal elements and local lobbies in order), has not diminished the centrifugal thrusts of many ethnic groups, mainly in the South where people are exposed to the burden of the oil extraction and production activities, without adequately participating in the benefits.
The enflamed local demands have found new strength with the coming to power of a President from the South, retired general Olusegun Obasanjo (8) , elected in 1999, after twenty years characterized by chronic instability (9) , and confirmed in 2003. Obasanjo, interpreter of a constitutional and democratic process which is still incomplete, has tried to limit the traditional privileges of the Northern States, attempting to absorb reasons for dissention and limit their subversive-religious potentiality.
Analysing the young and highly populated Nigerian Federal Republic (10) , the traditional hegemony of some ethnic groups -Yoruba (11) and, even more, Haussa–Fulani (12) - and the complicated regional system of oil revenue distribution, have, many times, triggered violent disputes by the southern ethnic people. In certain areas, since the 60’s, the bloody secessionist revolt of the Igbo has been developing, in Biafra, the violent vindications of the Ogoni and, more recently, the escalation of attacks by the Ijaw in the Niger delta region (13) , against the structures and personnel of the multinational oil companies (14) .
Oil, in fact, represents the main source of the Nigerian income, constituting 98% of federal exportation (15) . However, the sudden and irrational passage from an agricultural and pastoral tradition to an oil drilling industrial activity, has not permitted the oil and gas (16) wealth to be a factor of secure and solid economic growth.
The structural weakness of the country, due to the absence of a planned and differentiated economy, is evident also from the fact that Nigeria needs to import agrarian foods in a period when the demographic growth (72,49 deaths, /1000 births) has increased the need for goods and assistance (17) .
Furthermore, due to lack of planning and up-to-date infrastructure, Nigeria is excessively dependent on the price oscillations of the crude oil and constantly in fear of a serious fuel crisis. Such fuel, which is imported from abroad, is the subject of such aggressive smuggling so as to further damage the economic (18) and territorial (19) security.
From marabutto (20) to mullah Omar
The disintegration of the country, already structurally critical, is further worsened by the conflict of the two main religions, the Christian (21) religion, prevalent in the South, and the Moslem (22) religion which is in the majority in the Northern areas (23) .
In the Nigerian Moslem community, with its 67 million followers, second only to Egypt, the Islam religion, of the kind practiced until the 70’s, was of the Sunnite matrix. The diffuse pragmatic lobbying and the political laicism, which have always pervaded the Nigerian situation, had conferred a “moderate” religious orientation on the Islamic local communities until the 80’s. During the subsequent decade (24) , on the contrary, particularly in the Northern regions, the most extreme Integralist ideology has spread and taken root, progressively pro-Khomeinist, pro-Taliban and Wahhabita.
The importance of the phenomenon is easily understood from the fact that in twelve Northern States (25) , over thirty-six, of the Nigerian Federation, the Shari’a is in force. Besides, Kano is not only the major political and commercial centre in the Nigerian North but, moreover, it is the focal point of the Integralist phenomenon and the stronghold of its diffusion in the surrounding regions - through official circuits, but also through more underground and illegal circuits (financing structures, logistics and training support.) This situation appears to be premonitory of further social tensions, either because Shari’a often enters into open conflict with federal laws (26) and with the international rules which protect civil rights, or because the central apparatus is not capable of removing the contradictions and impose its essentially moderated line (27) .
Such ‘defaillance’ risks exasperating the most radical requests and to dangerously mix the economic and power aspirations of certain ethnic groups with the expansion targets of the global Jihad, as demonstrated by the frequent clashes between Christians and Moslem people which impede the efforts of the Nigerian government to reach some form of unification.
The major clashes occurred on the following dates:
• 21-22 February, 2001 in the North, at Kaduna (2,000-3,000 deaths);
• 22-23 May, 2000, at Kaduna (300 victims);
• 7- 12 September, 2001,at Jos (Plateau State) in Central Nigeria (1,000 deaths);
• 13-14 October, 2001, at Kano, in the North, during a demonstration against A1merican intervention in Afganistan (350 deaths);
•21-23 November, 2002 at Kaduna, following disorders triggered by protests against the foreseen finals of the Miss World in Nigeria (215 deaths and 1,215 wounded);
• June, 2003 at Numan, in the East-Central State of Adamawa. The murder of a Christian by a Moslem provokes uproar, devastation and a hundred deaths;
• February-May, 2004 in Central Nigeria (Plateau State). A territorial disputebetween Tarok Catholics and Fulani Moslems causes 1,000 deaths, mainly Moslems;
• 11-12 May, 2004, at Kano, the Moslem protest for the Plateau State massacre, provokes 40 deaths and hundreds of wounded and almost 30,000 dispersed. President Obasanjo calls a state emergency in the region and replaces the Governor;
• 8 June, 2004 at Numan. The reconstruction of a minaret, devastated in riots of the previous year, triggers new conflicts between a community mainly comprised of Christian Bachama against Moslem Hausa (132 deaths)..
A formation inspired by the Salafite, the “Ahel Al Sunna Wal Jamaa” (ASJA), has been developing since 2001. This group, mostly composed of young university students, aims at creating an Islamic State, on a Taliban model, in the twelve states where the Koran law is in force.
The ASJA are, most probably, involved in: a conflict with the Lagos Police in May ’98 (where many associates died); in the ethnic group clashes of September 2001 and February – May 2004, in the Plateau State (Central Nigeria); in several attacks on Police Stations in the North East, in the States of Yobe, (3lst December, 2003), and in Borno (September October 2004), followed by repeated clashes between security forces and “Taliban” extremists in hiding in the mountainous complex of Mandara on the Cameroon border.
Such a situation could not pass unnoticed by the omnipresent Bin Laden who, in the audio TV message of the 11th of February 2003, addressed to the “good Moslems”, included Nigeria (28) in the list of the “apostate” Arab regimes, convinced that in their Country existed the best conditions for the “liberation”.
Also the intelligence results, following the arrest in Pakistan of the informatics technician, Mohammed Naeem Khan (Abu Talha), confirm the presence in Nigeria (29) of Islamic extremists nuclei adjoined to Osama’s network, connected to it through dense technological communication systems.
The risk of a sub-Saharan integralist “green backbone” has been underlined also by institutional people of the Mahgreb Countries who, for obvious geographical reasons are very attentive to the developments of the local ‘scenario’. The Libyan Foreign Minister, Abdulharam Shalgam , interviewed by “La Stampa” on the 9th of August 2004, declared that the Islamic integralists of the ‘Salafite Group for Preaching and Combat’ intend to “create, together with the Ciad rebels, a buffer state an Islamic kingdom in the region….on the borders with Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, Ciad and Sudan” (30) .
Although the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and in general, the governments of “Black Africa”, have not yet the anti-terrorist ‘sensitivity and experience’ already acquired by the Mahgreb States, there is diffusion of a more determined orientation towards the preventive control of hot beds of endogenous tension and destabilizing attempts of foreigner penetration, often traceable to global integralist projects (31) .
To support this last hypothesis, it is believed that the loss of the Afghani bases, the Western pressures in the Middle East and in South Asia, could drive Jihad followers to consider all the African continent , and not just Eastern Africa where Al Qaeda keeps its strongest liaisons, as a possible logistic area, in the perspective of more direct strategic and operative projects.
The “chameleon-like” nature
of the networks
The necessity to usefully aggregate distinct local units into one unique “mosaic”, has favoured the systematic and qualified recourse to horizontal organizational forms which are fluid and transversal. They compose the socio-political model and the economic and power system of Nigeria today, through which the lobbies acquire, manage and control the national community and the diffused diasporas.
It concerns a (32) which unwinds around “charismatic” figures capable of strengthening the internal liaisons, unite human, material and intellectual resources, and direct them towards political and economic projects.
The rigid organization, the rituals opportunely adapted, the national “fideism”, the guarantee of protection which attracts and assumes more value in the destabilizing context of ethnic tension , poverty and lack of legislation are important factors which legitimize the elite and qualify them in a competitive manner on the global markets.
Such situations offer a better explanation of the tendency to form associations, which permeates every Nigerian community, also abroad. This tendency manifests itself through the developments of associative forms which have a noticeable “mafia-like” connotation (33) , or through international webs in which corporative interests interact, e.g. (professional, ethnic, university, religious, sectarian, sporting, humanitarian) and which are also open to criminal liaison.
This last factor is essential to our analysis because behind the groups or the individuals which promote or execute criminal activities, a stratified network exists, in which the criminal strata are supported, in a casual and instrumental way, by similarly criminal networks, even though belonging to lobbies of ethnic and religious matrixes and transversal power centres.
It is, in fact, the actual presence of representatives and associations, even more so, if they are numerous, polyhedron and widespread, that constitute the evidence that the colonies of foreigners have attained an appreciable “structural” rooting and a project of integration such as to offer further opportunity of evolution.
Far from trying to criminalize the ability to associate, which has very positive aspects of mediation and integration with the host community, nevertheless, in some cases, like that of the Nigerian one, it repeats the ambiguity and vulnerability of the area of origin. Furthermore, it is the prime objective of the criminal groups which, permeating the highest levels, can count on an excellent legal interface for their business and on a capillary and “official” instrument of control and conditioning of their .fellow countrymen.
Management and gri–gri (34)
In light of the above considerations, it is easily understood how composite the Nigerian criminal universe is. In this universe, innovative capacity, from the technological and functional aspect, are alternated with primitive criminal elements. The alternation confers a double nature to the threat, but only apparently different because they are, in fact, interactive and interdependent. In this Nigerian universe, superstitious and primitive rituals (which are often selected as bloody initiation rites for entrance into lobby sects), live together with highly evolved technological and cultural models, where the most different and qualified Nigerian social resources integrate. Alongside the aggressive bands, which get their legitimacy from organizations in mother countries, like the Eiye and the Black Axe, responsible for violent riots and particularly startling predatory crimes in Piedmont and Venetia, we observe the proliferation of much more solid organizations which can be defined as true holding companies.
These organizations are modelled on modern companies, through: the multi-sector nature of the business, deriving from the flexible morphology of the organizational model, which is able to adhere profitably to any remunerative aspect of the world market; the cells’ capacity of diffusion which can realize an ample intercontinental network, in which the local nuclei, relatively autonomous, respond, when needed, to the requirements of the lobbies who direct the traffic; the elevated capacity to share trans national plans, fruit of the structural pliability (35) , of the readiness to share illegal activities without exasperating the competitiveness and adaptability of the host environment ; the exercise of aimed violence, normally oriented towards the inside of the diasporas and in a very hidden way, in order to avoid social alarm.
The groups finish by operating autonomously, as independent criminal actors; horizontally, as joints of a network and vertically, in hierarchically organized mafia environments.
Like chameleons, they assume such elastic attitudes as to be able to adhere, almost fluidly, to different criminal designs, assuring themselves of a “strong inner hold” and co-managing personal business and terminal roles of a much larger and alien process. No wonder then that, for a long time, Nigerian criminality appeared only in its more peripheral and less important manifestations and that the real risk has been packed away like casual evidence. On re-examining the weave and putting in order the threads of potential danger, the Nigerian criminal threat could reserve real and unexpected concern.
From tomato picking
to money transfer
On Italian territory, Nigerian criminality has acquired a very good competitive level on the illegal market for the specialization attained in some illegal areas and for the cohesion within the groups. Furthermore, it has seized the opportunities offered by the dense trans national network which connects the cells in Italy with those spread throughout the intercontinental scenario.
The trans-national character and the strong connivance in the Nigerian communities, are fundamental factors of the lobbyist network which, from such communities, it draws legitimacy and strength. The new horizon of the threat is just such inter-dependence, through which we can observe and interpret the multifaceted illegal activities.
The happy union between tradition and modernity also emerges from the so-called “contribution” which confers an extremely up-to-date business statute in the area of prostitution, considered backward –among its ju-ju and voodoo rituals - and closed to any form of innovation. According to such a system, now widely applied, the women forced into prostitution, invest a quota of their income in the purchase and exploitation of other co-nationals, thus increasing the profits and thereby facilitating the paying off of their debts to the organization and their consequent liberation.
Such a managerial model, even more impenetrable, efficient and competitive, through a more direct participation and involving the illegal operators, victims and tormentors, creates a perverse circuit of mutual involvement which expands the market and limits possible defections.
The Nigerian phenomenon in Italy, growing in ‘quality’, is particularly evident in Venetia, Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia , Umbria, Lazio and Campania (36) . In these last regions, the Nigerians, concentrated in the Domitian area, are well ensconced in black market labour and drug trafficking. In the first case they have practically monopolized tomato and fruit picking, sheep breeding and the very small concerns in cheese production.
In the local narcotics market, on the other hand, they have experienced phases of conflict with Albanians and Camorra groups, when they tried to expand areas and competence, thereby undermining the delicate local equilibrium. Moreover, such clashes (37) are ill supported by local criminals because they create social alarm and put in danger the smooth running of the local criminal business.
Finally, In Venetia, in Piedmont, and in Centre Italy, “micro criminal” groups interact –small replicas of their mother country organizations – in which are repeated interests, antagonisms and associations of a striking entrepreneaurial profile, which are penetrated by qualified hardened criminals.
From the criminal viewpoint, the Nigerians have acquired a competitive position in many illegal sectors. The following are principal examples.
Trade of co-nationals
The traffic in human beings represents the first collector of illegal revenue which will be destined to the more lucrative drug traffic. In such trade, connected to the prostitution racket and the black market labour exploitation, the Nigerian ‘solidarity’ organizations have reached high standards of organization and management, tending every detail of each phase, of “recruitment” from the Mother Country (the enrolment fees are debited to the expatriate), from the furnishing of false documents, the transfer to the arrival countries, to the final phase of the journey with the arrival at the place of illegal employment. The major part of the victims come from the Southern States (mainly Edo (38) , but also Delta and Lagos). They are from the Bini ethnic group, have a secondary school diploma and are of the Christian religion (Pentecostal, Catholic or Anglican).
In this traffic, the citizens of the State of Edo monopolize the trade to the Schengen Countries. The Yoruba and Igbo prefer Great Britain and USA (39) .
The main routes to Italy of the clandestine people, are by air - direct or in successive stretches, or via land, with a series of stages in several African States, where they await to verify the best security conditions to continue the journey – until the Sahara crossing with subsequent arrival in Algeria, Libya or Morocco, from where, by sea, they reach Spain or Italy directly.
Surface travel is made by jeep, with Arab drivers, who carry about twenty passengers each time and the journey can last between two and eight months and even up to two years. The trade by sea, leaves from the Morocco coasts, is made by small precarious boats which transport groups of 20, or more, passengers.
From the African sub Sahara Countries (Western Africa, Central Africa and Eastern Africa) an increasing flow of clandestine immigrants come to the Italian coasts. They come from Western Africa and mainly from Ghana and Nigeria. The Western African States Economic Community (ECOWAS) foresees the free circulation of people within the member States. Consequently, the immigrants from that area and directed towards Italy would be checked only when they cross the border with Libya or Algeria.
In the absence of legislation agreed upon between the Countries of the European Union and the Sub Sahara African Countries, regarding the readmission of clandestine immigrants, any agreement regarding the migratory problem must be treated on the basis of the Cotonou agreement, in force since April 2003. This entails, among other things, strategies allocated to the reduction of poverty, to eliminate the primary causes of immigration.
At the moment, the E.U. has foreseen, from now until 2007, development programs only in 6 out of 36 Nigerian States.
Italy, which, since 2002 has destined to Nigeria, the only sub Sahara Country selected, a quota for immigrant workers, has started an activity of cooperation for development, on the basis of programs prepared by the International Migration Organization (OIM) and by The United Nation Institute for Research on Crime and Justice (UNICRI), to counteract the trade of women and minors. This programme provides information, technical support and instruction to the local assistance network, for the victims in Nigeria and Italy and to the federal and local structure of counteraction in the States of Lagos and Edo.
Nigeria has effectively cooperated in the repatriation of its nationals and in August 2003, introduced new legislation against the trade of human beings, which provides for more severe punishment for traffickers and protection systems for the victims.
The clandestine people are directed, principally, to the prostitution market. The phenomenon has reached almost ‘epidemic’ proportions, involving nearly all of the national territory. In fact, the 60% of foreign prostitutes in Italy is of African origin. Initially, it is concentrated in Piedmont and Venetia and then develops throughout the entire national territory. It is operated by groups deputized to manage the immigrants’ debt, which amounts to circa fifty to sixty thousand euro (40) .
The prostitution racket, sometimes, avails itself of associations which, on the surface, appear quite legal (41) , but are actually connected to summit criminal operations in the area of origin.
Italy is involved in the narcotics traffic, both directly and as a connection for other European countries.
The African groups invest in drug trafficking, part of their income from human trade and prostitution, exploiting the dense Nigerian inter-continental network to select couriers of different nationalities and origins (also from micro-criminal groups in the host country) and maintaining efficacious relations with corresponding South American and Asiatic groups.
Furthermore, they utilize channel and structures of other criminal services, thereby rendering themselves inter-operative and insuring a constant increase in the rights of use and the available resources.
Also in Italy the system of a ‘cluster’ or ‘the ant’ is being adopted, which involves large numbers of couriers who transport relatively small quantities of drug. These couriers, often ‘swallowers’ of small containers of drug, or Western people who have no criminal record (less subject to control), use different routes of entrance into the country, (air, sea and land).
Criminal profits feed diversified illegal traffic, also because of the often organic relations between the operating groups which, participating in a dense transnational network, can easily direct the proceeds of the sectors into the most remunerative areas.
The Nigerians are investing, more and more, in commercial activities (in ethnic food sectors), phone centres and financial structures for the transfer of money, through which they control the remittance circuits in the home country and support the illegal senders abroad.
The elevated capacity of feeding the lobbyist, political patronage and criminal network allows the Nigerian groups to utilize to the maximum, the opportunities offered by the trans-nationality.
The polyhedron nature of the cultivated illegal interests and the capillary-like diffusion of the Nigerian presence in the world, guarantee a competitive potentiality and the rapid possibility of using the illegal instrument in favour of the most remunerative business in the current economic situation
The organizational morphology of the Nigerian criminality presents a pliability which enables it to adhere to the most remunerative ideas on the global market and to exploit the vulnerability of the host country
Furthermore, the social and ethnic complexity and the centrifugal tensions present in Nigeria certainly assure the dangerous channels of communication and the transfer of these critical problems into Europe and Italy.
From the strictly criminal aspect of the Nigerian community in Italy, a competitive conflict between the more gifted organizations, which operate within impenetrable, self-referenced, exclusive and underground systems (42) , is emerging against batches of violent bands, who are hypertrophic , more external and direct. (43)
The enhanced visibility of these bands has the result of obscuring from view, the more underhand relational system of the lobbyist criminality, offering to this latter a greater ease of evolution.
Therefore, it cannot be excluded, that the lobbyist and consociate criminality, just because of its ability to hide itself, could actually offer an ever wider space to extremist - religious demands which, as we shall remember, were called for in Bin Laden’s communications. Consequently, the “network” would have the possibility of inter-connecting different affairs, of spreading differential risks, and of “confusing” the original matrix of the threat.
(1) In London, in September, 2001, the discovery of the torso of ‘little Adam’ lead investigations to certain Nigerian criminal associations in Great Britain and also spread throughout many European countries. These associations, in fact, practice ferocious rituals of affiliation, among which is the ‘sacrifice’of children. The suspects of the murder, largely of Nigerian nationality, are found to be part of an organization devoted to the traffic of human beings. According to the Press, the prime suspect , presumed the natural father of the child, is said to have killed 11 other children, among whom was one of his daughters. (2) With a system of ‘contribution’, the pimps and prostitutes contribute part of their earnings to a common fund, which is subsequently used for the purchase and management of ‘new victims’. The exploitation of these victims finance the liberation of the prostitute ‘investors’. The phenomenon is circular and exploits the psychology of the ‘kap˛’ in which, from a bond of complicity and sharing between the victim and tormentor, a benefit is derived which cements the mechanism of reciprocal control and incentive. (3) More than 250 ethnic groups live together in the Nigerian Federation. They are characterized by marked tribal identities which often become lobbyist or power pressures. (4) The coalition of African States founded in 2001, to attract foreign investments proposed to favour African development. In February, 2003, it pledged to create a council to collectively carry out, on equal terms, evaluations in order to verify the good political and economic governance of the member States. (5) The African Union, different from the old OUA, attesting to the principle of non-interference has sanctioned the right of the Union to intervene in the cases of war crimes, genocide or crime against human rights in order to restore peace and security in the member States. (6) Nigeria possesses the only industry of war weapons in West Africa. The Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), the factories of Kaduna (light arms and ammunition) and Bauchi (light armoured vehicles, both situated in the Muslim North, produce arms for the exclusive use of the Security Forces, although it is estimated that there are over one million arms kept illegally. (7) The Nigerian Army, greatly restructured by President Obasanjo, to reorganize the role of the ethnic groups Hausa-Fulani at the summit of the Armed Forces, has , at times, also manoeuvred illicit interests (drug trafficking and smuggling). In 1985, General Buhari’s regime was overwhelmed by the scandal of the involvement of high officials in drug trafficking. In 1999, the Nigerian Blue Helmets on missions in Sierra Leone were involved in diamond trafficking with the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front, (Marcella Emiliani, “ Petroleum, Armed Forces and Democracy – The Nigerian Case” and Giorgio Petrostefani, “Geography of illicit Drugs”. (8) An Anglican Christian of the Yoruba ethnic group, a long-time politician, Obasanjo was Head of State between 1976 and 1979, the years in which he became known as the only military leader who wanted to restore power to the civilians (a restoration which never materialized due to the military ‘coup’ of top-ranking officers of the North from 1983 until 1999. Obasanjo was arrested and imprisoned during the dictatorship of General Abacha (1993-1998). (9) After 20 years of military rule and coup d’Útat , with brief periods of civil government from1960-1966 (The Republic) and again (The Republic) in 1979-1983, Obasanjo won the elections and according to international observers “although not free of suspected political intrigue, at least they had the merit of being peacefully executed). However, the election results were not peacefully accepted and even today, those elections are subject of lively argument from the opposition. (10) Independent since 1960,Nigeria is composed of 36 states and has 130 million inhabitants. According to the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, in 2004,Nigeria had reached 137 million inhabitants (9th place in the classification of the most populated countries and by 2050, it could reach 370 million inhabitants, reaching the world classification of 5th place. (11) It represents the largest ethnic African community (20 million people) and populates the South-West of Nigeria and partially the South-East of Benin. (12) Situated in the Centre-North of the country, it is prevalently of Muslim religion. (13) In August, 2004, the revival of inter-ethnic confrontations at Port Harcourt, capital of the State of Rivers, broke out ,as in the past, in a violent revolt against the Federal and local government and foreign multi-nationals. In particular, the rebels of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, lead by Mujahid Dokubo Asari, threatened to attack the Nigerian infra-structures and personnel aboard the oil platforms “Operation Locust”, in retaliation for the attacks from the Nigerian Special Forces. Among other things, Asari accused the Royal Dutch Shell Company and L’Agip of collaborating with the Nigerian government in acts of genocide against the Ijaw people. Asari, received by the Nigerian President Obasanjo, agreed to accept a pact of reciprocal non-belligerence with the Federal Army. The situation, however, remains unstable. (14) As a consequence of the Niger Delta Force attacks, In 2003, the Nigerian petroleum production was reduced by 40% with world repercussions on the price of crude oil, already influenced by the instability of the mid-East crisis. (15) Nigeria is the 6th world producer and the 1st African exporter, with an extraction of over 2 million barrels of crude oil per day. (16) At the moment, Nigeria is in the 9th place in the world classification of countries who are producers and holders of gas reserves. (17) Notwithstanding, the existence of energy sources, agricultural resources and a high level of literacy (87%estimated in 2001), the country has a high index of unemployment (28%), prevalently in the Muslim North, and about half of the population live below the poverty threshold. Furthermore, it has a high foreign debt, (38 billion American dollars) and the national money, the naira, suffers from structural weakness. (18) In the Niger Delta, up to 100 thousand barrels of crude oil are extracted per day. To contrast the phenomenon, Nigeria has begun a joint military intervention in the area with the Americans, (The African Coastal Security Programme), aimed at fighting Islamic terrorism, smuggling and piracy, not to speak of the defence of the off-shore oilfields and the principal flow routes of petrol and hydro fuels, destined for the Western Market. (19) Among the African countries, Nigeria appears to be most affected by the phenomenon of sea piracy. (20) A term which is derived from Arabic, which currently defines the ascetic holy man to whom are attributed the powers of healing. More specifically, in the sufi association of the Muridi, widely diffused In sub-Sahara Africa (mainly among the wolof of Senegal, the Marabutto covers the role of social and spiritual guide and of teacher in his community. (21) Protestant (14%), Catholic (8.2%), Anglican (5.1%), African Independent (6.7%) prevalently diffused in the South of the country. This last, originating in the 70’s as a reaction against the official Christian churches identified with the ‘imperial colonials’, grafts numerous Christian elements onto the animistic tradition, and proliferates mainly in the vast urban centres. (22) 43.1% prevalently in the North. (23) To which are joined the different and numerous animistic and traditional beliefs (19%). (24) Innovatory was the social-economic and political value of the Yantatsine revolts, which took place in many Northern cities between 1980 and 1985, inspired by the fundamentalist leader, Muhammadu Marwa, better known as Maitatsine. This charismatic individual with messianic pretensions, in favour of the under-privileged classes, wanted to legitimize an Islamic State in an aim to unhinge the Northern Muslim establishment. In fact, he tried to win credit in the areas of the post-agrarian urban working classes, exacerbated by the ostentatious privileged high ranking officers of the military coups.Maitatsine was able to arm and lead violent attacks (at Kano, Yolam Kaduna and Maiduguri), the Intensity of which (5,000 deaths) was only second to the war in Biafra. (25) Zamfara, (the first to apply the rules of the Koran, in October of 1999), Sokota, Kebbi, Niger, Kano, Kaduna,, Jigawa Katsina , Yobe, Bauchi, Borno and Gombe. (26) For such a situation, Nigeria risks to be censored and put aside in the International Assemblies. (27) The Nigerian Constitution foresees the application of the Shari’a, which is equal to the other usual laws In the field of family rights and is only for Moslem citizens. However, the Koranic laws do not seem to entirely satisfy the extreme claims of the Extremist flange. (28) Together with Jordon, to Morocco, to Pakistan, to Saudi Arabia and to the Yemen. (29) Let alone, in Turkey, Pakistan and Great Britain. (30) The Minister has expressed concern also regarding a possible Islamic infiltration in Darfur, in the case that it reaches an ‘internationalization of the conflict’. (31) Which operate directly or through the International Islamic associations. (32) A definition coined by the Islamologist and Africa scholar, Guy Nicholas, according to whom, the political-social Nigerian dynamics are substantiated in the antagonism which opposes criminal and political patronage association, which is an expression of distinct lines of power. They tend to have ample margins of ‘secrecy’ adopting, however, intimidating codes which are intelligible within the context of their operations, in this way obtaining acquiescence from the society , and the legitimization of conspiratorial silence. (33) According to the Middle East and Africa scholar , Marcella Emiliani, in Nigeria, the local power lobbies have always been defined as ‘mafia’, which ‘at the beginning, at least’ had nothing whatever to do with an Italian-type criminal association. The characteristics of the African-type mafia are in their being an ‘astute business-political ‘ space, in which, behind all the officialdom , regional and sub-regional interests aggregate, but above all, they coalesce ‘crucial’ pressure groups consisting of civilians, military and ex-military people. Furthermore, many forms of ethnic banditry exist, which pursue much more aggressive criminal activities than the ‘mafia’ and are often functional or connected to the network. (34) Gri-gri are magic amulets made by holy men - they are very diffused in Nigeria, especially in the sub-Sahara. They are considered to Increase the capacity of self-affirmation and give protection against the ‘evil eye’. (35) The Nigerian criminal groups use and exchange information and experts, such as: forgers(prevalently from Ghana ) commission agents of documents, lawyers, hoteliers, travel agents, sanitary personnel (for clandestine abortions for prostitutes) and communication providers. (36) The Nigerians prefer criminal concentrations loosely ordered over the national territory and strictly related to each other, either through shared illegal business or in the occasions ‘official or not’ which are promoted by ethnic association. (37) Certain aggressive and/or murderous events between extra-community individuals have been strongly censored by certain Camorra leaders, who ill-support the consequent presence of the Police in the area and the growing alarm of the local population. (38) It is estimated that in Benin city and its hinterland, almost every family has at least one family member involved in some area of the trade. (39) Programme of action against trafficking in minors and young women from Nigeria into Italy for the purpose of sexual exploitation – Report of Field Survey in Edo State, Nigeria”, elaborated by the University of Benin in July, 2003. (40) This debt is calculated on the cost of the journey to the destination country, the furnishing of false documents, the pimp’s purchase of the victim, board and lodging in Italy, the renting of the ‘joint’ (‘beat’ – working zone) and the daily transport furnished by the organization, to and from work. (41) Some of these para-legal organizations meet in real congresses in which several hundred people may participate. During the course of these meeting, they elaborate the overall strategies of the organization, resolve the conflict of the ‘madams’ and appropriate the funds of mutual assistance. (42) The traditional criminal groups of the ethnic matrix are sustained, to a great extent, by the associative groups, which are , sometimes, also organic. (43) Mal- tolerated by the Nigerian representatives , who impede their diffusion, considering them between the hooligan and the primitive gangster.