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Nigerian drug gangs sow Global terror, threaten Europe, Asia and America

 
 
 
 
 
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In the first of a two-part report, JESUSEGUN ALAGBE and ERIC DUMO take a look at how drug and cult gangs of Nigerian origin are now calling the shots in other parts of the world

Until August 6, 2017, not many people had heard of the town called Ozubulu. A sleepy community tucked away in the slopes of Anambra State in the Southeastern part of the country, the area, like most rural ones across Nigeria, enjoyed relative tranquility even though social amenities needed to make life worthwhile are still largely missing. But on the morning of that fateful day, everything changed. At about 6:30 am, a gang of young men wielding guns and other dangerous weapons stormed St. Philips Catholic Church in the community while an early morning mass was going on. Without blinking an eye and minding the sanctity of the environment they were in, the men opened fire on worshippers – among them the very old and little children. By the time the dust finally settled, at least 13 people had been killed while another 18 were left battling for their lives after sustaining serious injuries.

While various theories as to the reason behind the gruesome attack emerged in the hours and days following the tragedy, the overwhelming consensus appears to tilt towards the fact that the massacre was a fallout of a feud between two drug cartels of Nigerian origin based in South Africa. According to reports, one of the warring factions was allegedly headed by one Aloysius Ikegwuonu, popularly known as Bishop, a native of Ozubulu, who has since denied the allegations. The young man, whose father was among the victims, has since visited victims and relatives of the dead and held meetings with leaders within the community.

However, sources told Saturday PUNCH that the fracas leading to the killings in Ozubulu might have begun as far back as five years ago when a particular drug gang based in South Africa failed to adequately account for the money realised from cocaine they allegedly sold on the streets from a consignment that came into the southern African nation through Pakistan.

According to the source, a mafia in the Asian country, enraged by the development, has been venting its fury on all those involved in the breach, killing several Nigerians based in South Africa.

It was also said that about the same time that St. Philips Catholic Church in Ozubulu was attacked, a similar armed siege was also laid at a restaurant in Johannesburg, South Africa, named Galito and allegedly owned by one of Bishop’s partners. Manager of the place and a staff were said to have been injured and hospitalised as a result of the attack.

Confirming the attack on the restaurant, the source said, “I was informed that a shooting incident occurred that Sunday morning at a business place owned by the Chairman of Ozubulu Town Union in South Africa and the manager was taken to the hospital.

“From my enquiry, the chairman of the union is neutral on the matter and he had made several efforts to ensure that the crisis was settled amicably.”

Speaking further, the source told Saturday PUNCH that the drug war was connected to the death of a young man from Imo State named Ginika, who he claims was one of Bishop’s most trusted allies but defected to a rival gang known as Obrocha.

“Some gangsters killed Ginika in an unrelated issue and the Imo State community made sure they were jailed. They have been in prison for a long time.

“Then there was another guy from Umuleri in Anambra State that was killed at a church in Johannesburg. He was rumoured to be friends with the ones in prison, who claimed that Bishop set them up and sent them to jail so that he could take over the place they used to sell drugs.

They demanded three things from Ozubulu community in South Africa before there could be peace. One, they demanded the payment of $1m, two, that they should be freed from prison; and three, that they kill certain people as revenge for their loss.

“Obviously, the Ozubulu community couldn’t meet up with these demands hence the attack on their town.

“Five people from Ozubulu have already been killed who were allegedly in connection with this gang war. That excludes the worshippers,” the source said.

But while the police carry on with investigations to unravel those behind the bloodletting, and all those allegedly fingered continue to deny any involvement in the tragedy, the incident has highlighted how Nigerian drug cartels and cult groups are now giving other rival gangs in Europe, America, Asia and other parts of the world a run for their money right on their own turf.

In Switzerland for example, a conservative European nation, recent drug busts by law enforcement agents have shown clearly the growing threat of Nigerians cartels in the country’s cocaine business.

In February 2017, a court sitting in Lausanne, a prominent city, sentenced two Nigerian asylum seekers working for a Togolese criminal group to prison. They were punished for trafficking cocaine into the country and also laundering money in a thorough investigation that covered most parts of Europe.

This incident followed the dismantling of a major cocaine supply network headed by Nigerians and involving around 30 people by the Swiss police. The drugs were said to have been brought in from France and the Netherlands through females working for the gang.

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