NIGERIA, GERMANY - In the 1970s Nigerian students founded a fraternity to fight against oppression and racism. Today, their name appears worldwide in connection with criminal activities. What happened?
In the 1970s, nine Nigerian students founded a fraternity called "The Neo-Black Movement of Africa" (NBM). Its logo was an axe smashing the shackles of colonialism, its members saw themselves as vanguard in the fight against racism and oppression - not only in Nigeria, but worldwide. Today, the NBM is active on almost every continent and has a self-reported membership of around 30,000 members.
In recent years, however, police officers and prosecutors in various countries such as the US, Canada, UK and Italy have investigated NBM members. They accused them of a wide range of criminal activities such as fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking and trafficking in human beings. In Nigeria, the NBM has repeatedly been associated with the "Black Axe", a forbidden gang involved in violence and killings.
Are these just "a few bad apples", as the current leadership of the NBM claims? Or has the former freedom movement lost its way and turned into an internationally active organised crime group? Investigative reporters Margherita Bettoni and David Klaubert followed the network. They interviewed law enforcement officials and analysed thousands of pages of court files. They obtained internal documents of the NBM. And they talked to crime victims as well as to members of the movement and its leadership. Their story gives a rare insight into a complex organization that spans continents.
Margherita Bettoni and David Klaubert were assisted by a third journalist, who wants to remain anonymous for security reasons.