LAGOS - This series of investigations exposes the consequences of yearlong corruption in the construction and oil sectors on Nigerian life conditions, and the dodgy relationship between oil businessmen and corrupt politicians in the country.

The series – The Nigerian Cartel

In Nigeria, for years, the same political and financial elite have been in charge. Politicians and entrepreneurs who control the two historically most profitable supply chains in the country: construction and oil.

The managerial and entrepreneurial class has grown so rich that it has transformed pieces of Lagos, the economic capital, into a small Dubai.

This has also deepened social inequality: almost seven out of every ten inhabitants of Lagos live in informal, slum-like communities. The inequality between rich and poor has been fuelled by a corrupt ruling class and an international context that has agreed to pay bribes to continue working in Nigeria.

Between 1965 and 2005 alone Oxfam International estimates that at least 20 trillion dollars were taken from the Nigerian Treasury, money that ended up in offshore safes run by complacent entrepreneurs. They are the protagonists of the stories in this series of investigations. The theft of public resources, one of the main causes of the chronic inequality that afflicts Nigerian society, has not stopped in the 15 years that the statistics do not take into account.

Next to being one of the richest African countries due to its huge oil reserves, Nigeria has also been one of the main countries of origin for sub saharan migrants since 2015. Poor labour conditions, corruption and state captures are the three main push factors for those who leave the country. This series of investigations exposes the consequences of yearlong corruption in the construction and oil sectors on Nigerian life conditions, and the dodgy relationship between oil businessmen and corrupt politicians in the country.

How Agip Uses ‘Oil Money’ To Divide Niger Delta Community and Keep Operations Running

In the area of ONELGA, Rivers State, the Nigerian subsidiary of Eni, the Italian oil company, is the main employer for local people. The area is affected by the presence of militias accused of vandalising the pipelines and robbing. Jobs offered by foreign oil companies is the only way to escape poverty.

The investigation reveals the developments of the secret work contracts between local providers of Nigerian workers and Agip. The Italian company, confronted by journalists, explained that it is not possible for Eni to assess the labour conditions imposed by local partners. The investigation explores how the local labour market is controlled by powerful and influential people known as the Agip Family.

Lagos Dubai, A Forbidden Dream Of Nigerian Power

Eko Atlantic City is a futuristic urban development in Lagos. The people behind the creation of this “Dubai of Nigeria” are the same involved in some major embezzlement cases from the 1990s.

The Chagoury family and Gabriele Volpi have been exposed in international investigations as proxies for the former general Sani Abacha and the current opposition leader Abubakar Atiku. Despite their connection to the old members of the Nigerian circle of power, they are still operating and they are investing in the main project of the city.

The last of Tarkwa Bay

Tarkwa Bay is the area opposite to Eko Atlantic City. It's a poor area of informal settlements, like the same ones where the 70% of the Lagos inhabitants live. Here thousands of people have been evicted from their houses without any official explanation. The local government claimed they were all involved in vandalising the pipeline close to the bay, but no prosecution has been formally started since then.

Tarkwa Bay is the symbol of the new Lagos waterfront, where there is no room for poor people.

Tarkwa Bay
Demonstration march against the evictions. Photo by Lorenzo Bagnoli.


The team

The joint investigation between Sahara Reporters and IrpiMedia started in October 2019.

Damilola Banjo is an experienced investigative journalist who has been working for years to expose corruption within the Lagos local government.

Kelechukwu Ogu is an expert in oil deals and contracts and he analysed, with the support of the Social Development Network, the labour conditions in the Niger Delta.

Lorenzo Bagnoli as investigative reporter who has been covering money laundering cases between Italy and Nigeria.

Team members

Lorenzo Bagnoli

Lorenzo Bagnoli is co-director, journalist, editor and coordinator of international projects at IrpiMedia.

Lorenzo Bagnoli

Damilola Banjo

Damilola Banjo is an investigative reporter who is now working with the BBC.

Damilola Banjo

Kelechukwu Ogu

Kelechukwu Ogu is an investigative journalist and data analyst at Sahara Reporters.

Kelechukwu Ogu
A grant of €11,000 was allocated on 25/04/2019




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