The Nigerian murdered in Goa seemed like any of our many crimes till state ministers started making blatantly racist comments about Nigerians in the media. I started reading up on various aspects of the story. Here is what all I found. There is no way to conclude anything based on Googled news reports, but it seems very clear that things are more than the state's sudden enlightenment about Nigerians as the true force behind drugs in Goa.
(Note: The sequence is more to give an idea of the overall picture and connecting dots rather than the exact sequence in which things happened)
Also note that this information is a quick compilation which may not get updated as well as desired. If you want to make any claims or allegations based on something you read here, do verify for yourself as well for latest status. There are many links, or a quick search will provide many sources for some news. When in doubt, ask in comments. 🙂
Events related with the murder of the Nigerian
30th October 2013, 9:30pm (approx) - Obada Uzoma Simeon (who got murdered), friend Obinna Paul Obi and Uwalaka Franklin, were at a restaurant in Parra on Wednesday night, when some locals started a quarrel with them (according to complaint filed by Obinna Paul Obi).
This is supported by a call made by the owner of a bar in Parra to the Mapusa police that "on October 30, 20 unknown locals, with faces covered and carrying deadly weapons, formed an unlawful assembly and abused three Nigerians who were her customers when they were standing near her bar."
Both reports seem to match the local intelligence police claim they had had of a spat between locals and Nigerians, though they had not expected it to escalate to murder.
Obinna Paul Obi's complaint states that they left for their rented room at Brittowadda, when at Lobowaddo they were waylaid by a group of people in a car and on two-wheelers. They were assaulted with choppers and iron rods. Franklin and Obado lost control of their scooters and fell into bushes and escaped. Obada's scooter was found later that night and body was found in the morning with stab wounds.
Obinna has stated that the assailants are locals and have had conflicts with him and his friends in the past. (This ties in with the police hunting for one Omkar Palyekar who is chief accused in the murder and is believed to have fled the region, alleging that Simeon had shot at his brother last year and hit his car, sparking off a rivalry. It also ties in with reports of rivalry between the Chapora gang and Africans over the control of the cocaine trade in the area)
When GMC refused to conduct an autopsy citing lack of verifiable identification and police did not act immediately to make arrests, Nigerians got angry and protested. The Nigerians were demanding that the autopsy on the deceased Nigerian be conducted in the presence of the Nigerian ambassador in India.
To their credit, the police have explained that there are legal issues with admissibility in court by doing the autopsy without verification of identity (I didn't understand why - surely even unidentified people will need post mortems at times?). The police are also not the cause of the injuries suffered by the two Nigerians during the protest. The police have acted to arrest one and identify other accused in the case as well as booked vehicles including one of a local candidate selected as Police Inspector. On the downside, police appeared to freeze without even attempting to use standard crowd control practices. Two Nigerians were also assaulted very severely in police presence and had to be admitted to hospital in serious condition.
The protests turned violent with the Nigerians vandalizing the hearse van and dumping the body of the murdered victim on the street to prevent the police taking it away. Some of the Nigerians wrested away police lathis and pushed them around and intimidated the police. Locals attacked the Nigerians, requiring two of them to be hospitalized.
Then followed a semi-official free for all on Nigerians.
53 Nigerians were arrested for the violent protest. No locals were arrested, even though Manohar Parrikar had publicly said (on 1st November) that all people engaging in violence would be arrested, including locals who attacked the two Nigerians.
Manohar Parrikar said that the murder was a result of rivalry between drug cartels, while the Nigerians claim that the trio were assaulted by local mafia backed by the state. The open protest by the Nigerians does not appear to be the action of an illegal drug cartel with something to hide (I mean other members of the cartel would be alive and vulnerable to being caught, right?). However, the vandalism of the hearse and intimidating police is of course a crime.
2nd November 2013 - Manohar Parrikar raised concerns about Nigerians staying in Goa illegally on photocopies of documents without original documents and declared that their documents will be checked. He said that the Nigerians were too huge for police to manage "He was nearly seven feet. He would have needed at least 10 policemen to control" about one of the protesters. It is not clear why police could not use tear gas or lathis or firing bullets in the air - all of which would not need them to be stronger than the Nigerians.
3rd November 2013 - Manohar Parrikar clarifies that they cannot deny Nigerians from staying in Goa and said that it was a complex issue and that documents of all foreigners will be checked (a BJP MLA in Goa, Glen Ticklo is a Portuguese national in violation of the Indian Constitution, if anyone is taking notes). However, villages were independently deciding to refuse rooms to Nigerians, one of which was headed by Delilah Lobo the wife of MLA Michael Lobo in Parrikar's government, who used Parrikar's statement as reason for ban, regardless of his denials about it being specifically about Nigerians.
Sarpanch of Parra Delilah Lobo said the decision was taken after it was found that most Nigerians “faked students visas” to stay in Goa and peddle drugs. “We had to stop this to save our village. The chief minister himself says that many Nigerians are living here on fake papers. That is why we wanted to pass the resolution,” said Lobo, wife of BJP MLA Michael Lobo. Incidentally, the bar owner in Parra who told the police originally described the Nigerians as her customers who were assaulted by locals.
Update: In a special Gram Sabha on the 6th Nov 2013, residents of Parra have resolved to verify the credentials of foreigners residing in the village (upgraded from banning Nigerians) and have also agreed to close down a restaurant used by the Nigerians for dubious purposes. I am imagining that this might be the bar whose owner gave a statement to the police saying her customers were assaulted. I can't imagine someone closing their business voluntarily, so between the lines, I am reading that she got retaliated at for standing up for the Nigerians. Of course, the last two lines are my hunches, not explicitly reported. It may be another bar. Who knows? This might be a thread worth investigating for media.
Sioliom-Sodiem village has passed a resolution that Nigerians staying on rent in the village should be asked to leave.
Water resources minister and Siolim MLA Dayanand Mandrekar, referring to the media reports about him patronizing drug peddlers, said the media was reporting what the Nigerians are alleging without checking facts. However, Dayanand Mandrekar had indeed publicly humiliated head of traffic Vijay Singh this August for acting like a "Goonda" asking what his business was leaving his headquarters in Porvorim to do goondagiri in Anjuna. Read: terrorizing the poor illegal shack owners of (Russian drug cartel dominated) Anjuna. What's the catch? When Vijay Singh had cracked down on the illegal shack owners (Read: Call to sack Dayanand Mandrekar for his pro-narcotics posturing) which are also a haven for illegal drug trade, he had been Superintendent of police. Two months later, he was shunted to traffic police. 8 months later, this head of traffic was publicly humiliated as a "goonda".
Dayanand Mandrekar had also called Nigerians a cancer and created a fair bit of outrage at the brazen racism by a government representative. However, he appears to have apologized for the statement. I am having trouble believing he had a change of character, but some strings seem to have been pulled to bring him in line (which was long overdue).
Michael Lobo told media "98% Nigerians, African nationals in Goa are involved in drugs... they come to Goa on false pretext of tourism, studies." - the evidence for this claim is unclear.
BJP MLA Subhash Phaldesai said the Nigerians were "behaving like wild animals" whose bodies were "full of drugs".
7th November 2013 - In a classic case of "sau choohe khake billi chali haj ko", Manohar Parrikar has just denied that there is racism against Nigerians in the state. Reminds me of what a haunted victim of domestic violence had told me. "First he attacked me, then he dismissed my pain by denying that I was attacked at all."
Banners have been reported in Goa with racist content like "Say no to Nigerians. Say no to drugs." which is a bit of a farce, since just the week before, a house committee report tabled in Goa's Assembly stated that it considered the Superintendent of Goa's police force to be the "Kingpin" of protection for Goa's drug mafia and squarely nails Ravi Naik (Congress politician) and his son Roy "Boss" Naik (Same duo accused by Fiona as controlling drug trade and suppressing investigations in her daughter, Scarlett Keeling's murder in 2008.) as controlling the drug trade. BJP MLA Michael Lobo (currently very against "drug cartels" - or more accurately Nigerians and believed to have put up some of the racist banners) attacked the report and defended Ravi Naik a mere 3 weeks ago.
Parrikar has said that Nigerians with fake papers will be deported and petty cases against them will be dropped, alleging that getting involved in petty crime was a tactic to prolong stay in the country.
4th November 2013 - Consular attach to the Nigerian embassy in New Delhi, Jacob Nwadadia had threatened that if the police did not stop evicting Nigerian nationals from their homes forcibly, "thousands of Indian nationals living in Nigeria will be thrown on the streets too". Which, while reckless to threaten against all Indians for actions in one state where Nigerians were not altogether innocent, was probably good strategy in lighting a fire under the collective bottoms of our politicians who are usually not used to being accountable for crimes against people.
It cannot be denied that a quick and dirty and immediate restoration of rights was the urgent need, if Nigerians were facing racist threats and eviction. I wish our diplomats had the quick thinking to strategize this rapidly. "There are only 50,000 Nigerians living in India, but there are over one million Indians living in Nigeria," Jacob said, making the none-too-discreet threat. No reports of Indians evicted in Nigeria, but hasty explanations by Parrikar and the revised stand by villages like Parra were unlikely to happen without that threat is my guess from watching a lot of Indian politics.
In the meanwhile, Surendra Pol from Chapora, a village 30km from the state capital, has been held for his alleged involvement in the murder of Obodo Uzoma Simon. Varying reports of eight or six more accused being identified say that they have fled the area. Some reports suggest they may have fled to Karnataka and police teams have been sent after them. Surendra Pol has no drug offenses registered in his name, though he has a history of anti-social activities and assaults.
A vehicle booked for being used in the murder belongs to a local candidate selected to be Police Inspector (I am not clear of the difference between candidate selected as Police Inspector and Police Inspector - guessing that there may be training or something before actually working as Police Inspector), but police are saying they have no bad reports against him and are investigating if it was rented out (it is privately owned).
A senior police official told The Hindu that one of the suspects had a case against him for attacking Nigerians two years ago. The police said he had managed to obtain an affidavit to force the complainant to withdraw the case. The same accused later approached the State Police Complaint Authority (SPCA) against the Sub-Inspector investigating the case saying he was unnecessarily being harassed by police. The case is under trial at SPCA.
On another track, Herald reported speculation that the victim could have been murdered for being an informant in a recent drug bust worth Rs 1 crore. Whether this is accurate or not remains to be seen, but there was indeed a drug bust of a Nigerian (who provided information for arrest of another Nigerian) based on information from informers.
Events possibly relevant to the murder of Nigerian in Goa
On the night of 27th October Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Goa, raided a starred hotel in Panaji and arrested Ugochukwu Soloman Uabuko, 29, and seized 451 g of cocaine. Another 12.5 g of MDMA drugs were seized from Emeka Maximum Nnabude, 33. Both were Nigerian nationals and the total value of drugs seized crossed Rs 1 crore. Is this the incident speculated about? The arrests happened a couple of days before the murder.
What is really happening with the Nigerians in Goa?
The wider scene is that there is a five way turf war for the Anjuna-Vagator-Chapora-Siolim-Morjim territories among various drug cartels with documented involvement of politicians and police, foreign drug cartels, and local players that has seen a series of killings and disappearances in the area.
The police are on a macabre treadmill forever chasing the small players while the larger players hold their strings. The few police officers who do swim against the tide in pursuit of their duty find themselves neutralized. Superintendent of Police Vijay Singh who dared tread into the forbidden bastion of Anjuna's drug sanctuary now heads traffic police and got publicly humiliated by the protector of the cartels in that area (who has also been known to make other pro-narcotics comments in the past, though he is outraged by the idea of a Nigerian cartel).
Times of India has alleged (without naming the MLA) "Interestingly, a three-time MLA from Bardez and a present BJP minister had, a few years ago, tried hard to get one of his constituents who was arrested on drug charges released."
Israeli drug runner David Driham (Dudu), who was arrested for possessing cocktail of drugs, was updating his Facebook profile from jail. He was later released due to lack of evidence or something.
Israeli drug dealer Yaniv Benaim (Atala) was recorded by his girlfriend bragging about his police and political connections, including Roy Naik, son of state's former home minister Ravi Naik, as one of the prime links to drug mafia, which led to several arrests, but not Roy Naik.
The home committee report tabled in Goa's Assembly stated that drugs seized by police and stored in anti-narcotics cell (ANC) malkhana for safe custody, were released from sealed and authenticated storage for circulation back into the drug market thereby encouraging the drug mafia in the state. Several police officials were found to have drug cartel links.
I think Firstpost may have nailed it.
Police suggest that the crackdown on Nigerians would tweak the narcotics industry in Goa, with one of the major drug mafias run by the Nigerians now on the backfoot. “The local drug mafia which appears to have engineered the murder now has an upper hand. The Nigerian gang will not have time to consolidate their position before the tourist season hits its peak and drugs sales hit the peak,” a senior police official, formerly attached to Goa Police’s anti-narcotics cell, said.
It is either that, or Herald nailed it that it was a drug cartel's retaliation against an informer.
Whichever it was, it seems amply clear that in true Goa's "drug paradise" tradition, the real people holding the strings on the illegal drug scene in Goa are beyond the reach of the police.
This post may get updated with anything significant that happens or anything that can be ruled out will be taken out.