excerpts from “Mafia Africa”, a striking dive into the Nigerian mafia
Good leaves. When the police begin to work on the cultists Vikings, in the summer of 2019, they have already built up a small territory in Marseille. The epicenter of this principality is called the Palace, but the pavilion has nothing of the flashy splendor of the columned villas that the new rich of Benin City love. [ville du Nigeria considérée comme le fief des cults, où les auteurs se sont rendus pour enquêter]. It is a modest abandoned property that once housed the offices of a waste treatment company. In this former working-class district of the 15e arrondis*****t of Marseille, somewhat dodgy car scrapyards rub shoulders with parking lots for garbage trucks and residences lined with decrepit little houses. The Palace of the Vikings blends into the gloomy decor of the Chemin de la Commanderie which runs along the Aygalades stream without noticing it. The rust-corroded gray gate opens to a faded graffiti-covered wall and a weedy tree-lined garden. Most of the windows have been boarded up and the roof is losing its tiles, but the squat is quite spacious with about ten rooms on two levels.
The “Doctor One” of cult, in other words the leader of the gang, is called Yakubu. He resides intermittently at the Palace, among his troops. The whole Nigerian community in Marseille knows and fears the so-called “Number One Man”. The soon-to-be 25-year-old guy has a sweet, laughing face, short, neat braids. father of an infant, ” The love of his life “, he wears rather handsome with a tendency to dress in red, the sacred color of the Vikings. Yakubu commands the “bridge” (” deck ) from Marseilles, one of the cells of the “ship” (“ ship ”) French of the Vikings. The architecture of the group, like its desire for territorial expansion, draws its inspiration from the mythology of the looters and fierce Scandinavian navigators who swept over European cities almost a millennium ago. Their distant West African admirers were born on the shores of the Gulf of Guinea, in the oil delta of Niger with polluted waters and infested with pirates who attack tankers like pipelines.
The Marseille branch of cult has a hundred active members in pimping, drug and migrant trafficking. They pay Yakubu a monthly contribution of around thirty euros. At his side is the “Akman”, his deputy and putative successor. His name is Dammy. Ten years his senior, with his dreadlocks woven with red thread and his weakness for military uniforms, he looks more like a Rasta Man perverted, always up for a dirty trick. Yakubu can also count on the “Intelligence Chief”, the head of intelligence responsible for monitoring the activity of rival gangs, city bosses and the police. On a sunny Saturday in July 2019, this master spy cultist mounts an operation which, through its violence, will place the Vikings and their command in the crosshairs of the Marseille police for many years. He sends one of his emissaries to town to lure his prey to the Palace.
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