Nigerian mafia, Marco Valerio Verni: “Issue still unexplored”

Italy had the cough… Now the whole of Europe has got the flu.


(Translated to English from Italian Via Google Translate)

Nigerian mafia, Marco Valerio Verni: “Issue still unexplored”

On April 26, in L’Aquila, during the “Hello Bross” operation, the police officers arrested 30 people, located in 14 Italian provinces and linked to the Nigerian mafia, a criminal organization considered dangerous, capable of branching off on the territory.

The head of the Black Ax clan, a 35-year-old Nigerian, who had settled in the Abruzzo region and silently carried out illegal activities, such as drug dealing, prostitution and other criminal acts, was also in handcuffs.
A phenomenon, therefore, far from decreasing, indeed. Once again, we interviewed the lawyer Marco Valerio Verni, an expert on the subject, to take stock of the situation.

Avv. Marco Valerio Verni, a few days ago, in Porto S.Elpidio, there was still talk of the Nigerian mafia, in a conference organized by the Brothers of Italy, in which you participated

Yes, we have addressed this issue which is as important as it is still too unspoken. It is worth mentioning that it has returned to talk in a region which, although it is probably not yet at the same level as others, certainly cannot be said to be exempt from the danger of this crime. Very often it is underhanded and, as in the case of indigenous mafias, much depends on how the investigations are set up. At times, the numerous crimes perpetrated by Nigerians are still considered as stand-alone, without considering them, instead, in a systemic way, with the obvious consequences both at an
investigative and, later, procedural level.

Why is it still not being talked about as it should?

It is a politically inconvenient topic, since it is irremediably connected with that of irregular immigration, behind which, as we know, rivers of money flow. And then there is the fear of being accused of racism or incitement to racial hatred: but those who make these accusations do so instrumentally, ignoring certain incontrovertible data.

That is?

Speaking not only of the Nigerian mafia, in the polysemic use of the term, but also of all the other ethnic criminal organizations, it escapes, for example, that their presence on our territory ends up strengthening indigenous mafias, given that these the latter contract out some illegal activities to the former (first of all, drug dealing and exploitation of prostitution), being able to dedicate themselves, instead, to others, less “visible” but no less profitable for them and harmful to the community, including tenders procurement, waste disposal, health. We have had an example, if anything were needed, in these months of pandemic.

Furthermore, if we talk about the Nigerian mafia, we must not forget (but to do so, we should study, and today unfortunately many speak only for ideological preconceptions) that the first victims are the Nigerians themselves, since, with deception or violence, after being subjected to particular rites, they are taken from their villages and sent to Italy, by unscrupulous traffickers, until they are “put on the road” to prostitute themselves. With serious consequences for the physical safety of them or their loved ones who have remained in Nigeria in the event of their refusal or
betrayal. The same goes for other ethnic criminal organizations, on which we must not let our
guard down.

Inevitably, then, there are those who say (and they did not miss even on the occasion of the meeting you mentioned earlier) that Italians also commit crimes and that we should first of all talk about them.

Here too, I wonder where the intelligence and the critical sense have gone: talking about ethnic mafias does not mean ignoring the homegrown ones. Indeed, as mentioned, it means placing the accent on a phenomenon that ends up strengthening them. Moreover, let me make a consideration that is as simple as it is logical: the Italian who delinquents is born in our country and we must, unfortunately, keep it; we import that foreigner, often through that irregular migratory flow I mentioned at the beginning.

On the contrary, therefore, I could say that some anti-mafia associations should also begin to consider ethnic criminal organizations as a side of the same issue, not limiting themselves only to the Italian ones. By now, we act and reason at a transnational level and, consequently, certain “taboos” should be eliminated, even in the ways of reasoning and reflecting.

Speaking of immigration, however, as you said, is often still too uncomfortable

Let’s say you do it, but not completely. Because, if this were to happen, some other equally inconvenient aspects would have to be addressed, including the “land and water grabbing”, implemented by some important countries, including the United States, Great Britain, India, the United Arab Emirates and China, the climate upheaval ( even here, if the argument were to be addressed, it would be necessary to recall to order some Powers not really careful to respect the existing agreements on this point), energy resources.
Contrary to what one might imagine, Africa represents a continent very rich in raw materials: we could not have cell phones, if we did not, for example, have some minerals extracted from some territories of this continent. Without considering oil and more.

Italy and Europe should recover greater incisiveness in this continent, as also emerged in the recent G20 in Matera, and, for example, the proposals of our Prime Minister to return to invest there, especially in Libya, are welcome. which represents the true southern border of our continent.
Changing logic, however, because, by doing so, one should consider that, not only would it be a question of “helping Africans at home”, but it would also mean the opposite, that is, “helping ourselves, by extension, at home” .
And this, also from another double point of view: one geo-political, the other of countering terrorism.


From the first point of view, the geo-political one, we must realize that our politics (Italian and European) has been, as mentioned, too absent in Africa in recent years. At a certain point, we found ourselves in the Mediterranean with other powers that probably did not even dream of such generosity, namely Russia and Turkey, with all that this entails at the economic level.

We must, therefore, recover the necessary centrality, exploiting our undisputed capacity for dialogue both with the West, in which we are traditionally framed, from all points of view, as well as with the East, in particular with the two states mentioned. But also with China and India, which, to return to the above discussion, have enormous interests in the African continent.

As regards terrorism, however, it is undeniable that the latter is an incubator to be taken into due account and, in this perspective, interreligious dialogue is very important. But even the latter must not be too unbalanced, leading to a watering down of our values, on the one hand, and indifference, if not, even, to denial, of certain criminal phenomena in our country, on the other.

Very clear. To conclude: what could be other tools, in your opinion, to be able to better deal with such situations?

As far as immigration is concerned, in addition to investing economically in Africa, as mentioned above, the instrument of humanitarian corridors should be strengthened, on the one hand, while, on the other, asserting oneself more in Europe, both by demanding a more equitable redistribution. , both by invoking the right to flag: if the ship of an NGO that rescues at sea flies the German flag, for example, then the rescued people, after a first health care operation in Sicily, can very well, through flights, be transported in Germany. And so on.

On the ethnic organized crime front, it would be appropriate, in some ways, to update our penal code, especially as regards the typification of mafia-type associations, for others, however, it would be necessary to think of a protection system for interpreters who, in the trials against the Nigerian mafia, for example, they are the first to get scared and, often, to give up their jobs, then slowing everything down.

But also to establish specialized sections in the Courts themselves, while also enhancing, perhaps, new professional figures, such as anthropologists. And the system of collaborations, hard prison and life imprisonment should not be debased, as well as someone, also in the wake of recent “release” sensational also would like to do. Indeed, on the contrary, it would be necessary to encourage collaboration, and in this sense, all the realities, from the welfare ones, to the municipal ones, to the religious ones, could especially sensitize people suspected of being victims, to report their torturers, being able to then they take advantage of particular protections in this regard.

Furthermore, in my opinion, we should be more vigilant about the various associations that deal with integration: they have a very important role, having to bring together two cultures (ours and “theirs) often at the antipodes. Of course, in the meantime it would take the will, on the part of those who come to us, to want to accept our values, and unfortunately it does not seem that this is always the case.

On the other hand, however, the aforementioned (associations) should perhaps be more careful in monitoring and reporting any
criminal subjects or illegal activities: again with reference to the Nigerian mafia, I would like to remind you that some have been arrested, practically in the act of crime, in some reception centers. Failure to integrate, in addition to causing even those who were not to fall into the hands of criminals, also favors radicalization, with the danger of terrorism just around the corner.

Lastly, but there would be more to add, the judiciary should also resort a little less to the so-called conditional suspension of the sentence, of which, obviously, it has ended up being a real abuse. For some crimes, such as drug dealing, for example, it should never be allowed. So much so, for the penalties that are generally inflicted, the condemned subject could still ask for other alternative measures, which, paradoxically, could be useful to have him inserted into society, after perhaps having made him understand the error.
In short, the judiciary should take back that function of social protection which, too, belongs to it. If you like, I will list some striking cases, starting with Pamela Mastropietro.

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