This Present Darkness

This Present Darkness
A History of Nigerian Organised Crime

‘This is quite simply a dynamite book, striking first of all for the sheer depth of research that has

gone into it. It is remarkable, too, in the way that it is able to fit this material into a bigger picture,

created not only by a thorough familiarity with Nigerian history and politics, but also by an

awareness especially of the spiritual dimensions of Nigerian life, and the ways in which these

feed through into crime as well as virtually every other aspect of Nigerian affairs.’ – Christopher

Clapham, University of Cambridge Nigeria and Nigerians have acquired a widespread

reputation for involvement in drug-trafficking, fraud, cyber-crime and other types of criminal

activity. Even South Africa has not been immune: in 1992 the National Intelligence Agency admitted

to a parliamentary committee that it had fallen victim to a million-dollar Nigerian scam.

Successful Nigerian criminal networks have a global reach, interacting with their Italian, Latin

American and Russian counterparts. Yet in 1944, a British colonial official wrote that ‘the number

of persistent and professional criminals is not great’ in Nigeria and that ‘crime as a career has so

far made little appeal to the young Nigerian.’ 


This last book by a celebrated African historian traces the origins of Nigerian organised crime

to the last years of colonial rule, when nationalist politicians acquired power at regional level. In need of funds for campaigning,

they offered government contracts to foreign businesses in return for kickbacks, in a pattern that recurs to this day.

Political corruption encouraged a wider disrespect for the law that spread throughout Nigerian society.

When the country’s oil boom came to an end in the early 1980s, young Nigerian college graduates headed abroad,

eager to make money by any means. Nigerian crime went global at the very moment new criminal markets were emerging all over the world.



Stephen Ellis, who died suddenly in 2015, was Desmond Tutu Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the VU University, Amsterdam, and a senior researcher at the

African Studies Centre, Leiden. He wrote ground-breaking books on the ANC, the Liberian Civil War, religion and politics in Africa, and the history of Madagascar.


Parameters of Book: 
Author: Stephen Ellis
ISBN: 978-1-4314-2374-3
mobi file ISBN:  
Size (mm): 235x155mm
Pages: 256pp
Format: Trade Paperback
Colour: Black and White
Rights: Southern African Rights from C. Hurst & Co., UK
Language: English
Publication Date: May 2016