Black Axe (organized crime group)

The NBM of Africa, is called Neo Black Movement, that originated around 1977 at the University of Benin. It now operates as a pan-african organization, whose main activities include human trafficking, money laundering, and fraudulent online operations.[1][2] Its most notable crime is the Obafemi Awolowo University massacre.[3]

Black Axe
FounderNicholas Idemudia
Founding locationNigeria
Years active1977-present
TerritoryAfrica, Asia, Europe, Australia, Ireland, North America
ActivitiesDrug Trafficking, Murder, Human Trafficking, Robbery, Fraud, Prostitution, Contract Killing, Scamming
Neo-Black Movement of Africa
FoundedJuly 7, 1977
University of Benin (Nigeria)
TypePan-African Organization
EmphasisPan-African struggles
CharteredBenin City, Nigeria
NicknameNBM of Africa





Emerging in the 1970's, nine students from the University of Benin, led by Nicholas Idemudia, took it upon themselves to start a male brotherhood, with a focus on "intellectual radicalism in pursuit of Pan-African struggles."[4] [5] Adopting a logo of a black axe "smashing the shackles of colonialism," [6] these men "arose in response to the Pyrates confraternity cult's reported excesses."[5]

As the group expanded and violence increased, the 1994 graduating members decided to separate the Black Axe from the University of Benin. The leaders then decided to connect with the Neo Black Movement. This became a prominent group at many other universities in the 1980s.[5] It is important to note that "various publications reference the NBM and Black Axe as synonymous, such as the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. However, the NBM has publicly disassociated itself from the Black Axe confraternity.".[7]

A group of Black Axe members with a banner displaying their logo, 2011

These members choose to wear "white shirts, black pants, a yellow tie, and a headgear with a yellow ribbon," as each of these symbolises a Black Axe belief.[5] White represents harmony and purity of the body and mind, black is sympathy with their race, and yellow represents the intelligence of the members.[5]



There is little information on the structure and hierarchy of the group, despite extensive media coverage. The group membership is estimated to comprise over one thousand "educated males."[8] The group has a hierarchal structure that keeps everything running, comprising:

  • "National Head" - Runs the confraternity on a day-to-day basis, coordinating all of the departments below them. They are seen as the face of the Black Axe and serve as an example to all the Axe-Men.
  • "Chief Priest" - Responsible for all of the activities within the Black Axe, as well as keeping research about the African traditional religion up to date. They also act as an assistant to the National Head.
  • "Chairman" - Not much is known, but they are also one of the higher-ups within the hierarchy of the Black Axe
  • "Eyes" - Responsible for keeping an eye out for police at different events and initiation. They also help connect with similar groups of similar ideals.
  • "Criers" - Responsible for managing the website, publishing information about events, and overall organization of information.
  • "Butchers" - Responsible for enforcing the rules of the Black Axe and keeping members in line.

The last three groups each have a chief. There are also councils, including the "National Executive Council" and the "National Council of Elders" but not much is known about them.[9]



Before recruitment and initiation, the potential members must sign an "oath of secrecy," pledging that they would never reveal any information to non-members or violate the group's rules.[5]

Then the initiation ceremony, which is sometimes called "Blending," takes place and all of the new members are gathered. The gathering of them is nicknamed as "Jollification."[10]

There are a number of initiation processes that these men must go through before they are granted admission. It is claimed that "the Axemen are stripped naked and forced to lie in mud while enduring severe physical abuse, crawl through their tormentors' legs in a process known as ‚devil's passage,‘ and drink blood."[7] This is used to degrade them and connect them to each other. It has also been said that some of the ceremonies include bonfires, drugs, and the sexual assault of women.[7]

Leaders use death threats and other types of violence against members that have any ideas of leaving the confraternity and the secrecy runs on fear. Some members, usually first year students, are forcefully initiated. The Black Axe does this by "portraying the university environment as hostile and students as in need of protection."[8] After they are initiated, they are given a black robe with their logo and told that they "have just acquired (their) coffin."[11]



Cyber Crime


The Black Axe Confraternity seem to be involved in a lot of political misconduct.[10] For example, it has emerged that Augustus Bemigho, a 2019 APC party candidate for political office, was connected to the Black Axe. Emails show that he "sent guidance on scamming to a network of collaborators on 62 occasions and communicated with others about specific scamming targets."[12] Some of the documents in his emails show that in Benin City, 35 million naira ($85,000; £64,000) was directed to the Black Axe in order to secure votes in 2012.[12]

In October 2021, eight members of the Black Axe were arrested and charged in connection with internet scams. "The South African members of the group were accused of running romance scams and advance-fee schemes defrauding investors between 2011 and 2021."[13] They used the widely known Nigerian email scams, as well as social media, dating websites, and phone numbers to target US citizens.[13]

In 2021-2022, Interpol arrested 75 suspected members of the Black Axe for trying to wire one-million dollars over many bank accounts. This operation spanned "4 countries on four continents targeting Black Axe and related crime groups in the region."[13] Along with cars and luxury items, 12,000 SIM cards were seized, which helped name many suspects.

In 2023, a member of the Black Axe was caught trying to steal one-million dollars through money laundering. Starting in 2017, a man, who was supposedly working with the Black Axe, opened many bank accounts to conceal money that he had "obtained through business email compromises and other fraud schemes."[14] One of the names he operated under was "Abravoo Trading Company." Because of the novelty of this case, there is not much known about who and how he got the money into those bank accounts.

Violent Crime


Against Other Crime Groups


There are many instances of violence between the Black Axe and other crime groups.

In May 2009, there was a fight between the members of the Black Axe and those of the Vikings cult. This led to injuries and deaths amongst students at the University of Abuja.[10]

A little less than a year after that, in March 2010, another fight broke out against the Markvites cult, killing nine people.

The Black Axe consistently gets into fights with one of their rivals, the Eiye Confraternity. They have injured or killed at least 53 people between March 2009 and June 2013 just in those fights alone.[10]

Outside of Other Criminal Groups


A lot of their violent crime, including murders and rapes, are not reported or talked about much, as there is little policing within Benin City.[11]

On 10 July 1999, 40 members of the Black Axe drove up to Obafemi Awolowe University in Ile-Ife. Holding shotguns and hatchets, they called out to specific students, saying things like "Faro, come out if you are a man! Legacy, come out if na your father born you!" [15] They then went into the residency, killing and injuring 16 people.

In 2016, almost two dozen Black Axe members were arrested in Italy for "mafia conspiracy, drug trafficking, exploitation of prostitution and violent crimes."[16] A little over a year later, more Black Axe members were suspected in other sex trafficking activities in Italy.[16]

In January 2022, four members were arrested after forcing a woman into human trafficking. She was forced into prostitution after doing a ritual that bonded her to her traffickers' debts. It was reported that she had been "imprisoned, raped, blackmailed and forced into prostitution to pay a debt of about €15,000."[17]



The Black Axe's most notable slogan is "equality and social justice for all."[18] They blend "old Nigerian religion with anti-colonial activism." They claim they are fighting against oppression. They also say that they "don't kill the innocent," and only do it for justice.[11]

With the slogan "Aye Axemen", they believed themselves as a brotherhood focusing on Black Realism and Determinism.[4] They also believe that adopting violence makes them strong men.

They have a ceremony called a "gyration" where they worship "Korofo," who they also call "the unseen God" or "the devil to guide all men.[11]

See also



  1. ^ "African Sociological Review/Revue Africaine de Sociologie". African Studies Companion Online. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  2. ^ Owoyele, Tola (11 October 2023). "'Black Axe, a Nigerian Cult, Now a Big Irish Problem'". Foundation For Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  3. ^ Hallman Martini, Rebecca (1 October 2021), "When Things Fall Apart", Self+Culture+Writing: Autoethnography for/as Writing Studies, Utah State University Press, pp. 57–70, retrieved 19 December 2023
  4. ^ a b "History". NBM of Africa. 14 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "History Of Black Axe Confraternity - Neo Black Movement (NBM)". 2 October 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  6. ^ "Neo-Black Movement a.k.a. Black Axe - social movement or international criminal network? | Journalismfund Europe". Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  7. ^ a b c Boyers, Candice (28 April 2023). "Representation of Nigeria's Black Axe Criminal Organization: Mafia, Cult, or Confraternity?". Chosen Narrative. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  8. ^ a b Ellis, Stephen, "'Campus Cults' In Nigeria: The Development Of An Anti-Social Movement", Movers and Shakers: Social Movements in Africa, Brill, pp. 221–236, doi:10.1163/ej.9789004180130.i-260.86, retrieved 19 December 2023
  9. ^ najuju (27 October 2013). "A Neo Black Movement Dictionary". najuju. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  10. ^ a b c d Surajo, Aminu Zubairu (1 January 2021). "Stigmatization of Obstetric Fistula Patients in Northern Nigeria". Academia Letters. doi:10.20935/al2186.
  11. ^ a b c d Black Axe: Nigeria's Mafia Cult - BBC Africa Eye documentary, retrieved 19 December 2023
  12. ^ a b "Black Axe: Leaked documents shine spotlight on secretive Nigerian gang". 13 December 2021. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  13. ^ a b c Burt, Jeff. "Operation Jackal: Interpol arrests Black Axe fraud suspects". Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  14. ^ Black, Damien. "Black Axe Cyber-Gang Affiliate Charged with Money ... - Cybernews." Cybernews, 15 November 2023,
  15. ^ Hyena, Hank (2 August 1999). "When things fall apart". Salon. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  16. ^ a b "Italian Cops Try To Stop A Sex Trafficking Gang Called Black Axe". WBUR. Boston. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  17. ^ Tondo, Lorenzo (19 January 2022). "Italian police arrest alleged Black Axe Nigerian mafia members over trafficking". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  18. ^ "What Is The Motto Of NBM? - Neo-Black Movement of Africa". 5 October 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.