The cradle of trafficking
In the summer of 2015, a team selected by OAK traveled to the city of Cotonou, in the south of the country, to investigate the activity of the traffickers distributing gasoline throughout Benin. During this process they discovered a very well organized business that depends on the Association of Importers, Transporters and Resellers of Petroleum Products (AITRPP), which despite its illegal nature is officially registered. Joseph Midodjoho, popularly known as Oloyè, is the president of the AITRPP and is also active in politics. The twelve heads of department who in turn control the seventy-seven regions of the country report to him. At the lower levels of this hierarchy are the different presidents of the districts, neighborhoods and towns, and lastly the street stall’s vendors.
Our storytellers achieved privileged access to some of the least accessible enclaves on the route, such as the Ifagne riverbank. This place is a strategic point, located at only 5 minutes from the Nigerian side when navigating the river. In this place traffickers unload hundreds of jerrycans of gasoline that will be shipped and distributed across the border. The project includes a detailed follow-up of the scenarios and characters that intervene on the route, as well as interviews with the different actors who could best explain this reality: human rights defenders, local journalists, courriers, and traffic leaders.