This Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organised Crime

With a mixture of pride and sadness we announce that the last book by our late colleague Stephen Ellis (1953-2015) has just been published: This Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organised Crime. Nigeria and Nigerians have acquired an unfortunate reputation for involvement in drug-trafficking, fraud, cyber-crime and other types of criminal activity. Successful Nigerian criminal networks have a global reach, interacting with their Italian, Latin American and Russian counterparts. The book traces the origins of Nigerian organised crime to the last years of colonial rule. 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.

The book was launched at the ASCL on 9 June 2016. 


'Prop ze maar vol met bankbiljetten', NRC Handelsblad, 3 June 2016 (Subscribers' or paid access)

'The route to kleptocracy', Politicsweb, 15 May 2016.

'No fantasy; Nigerian crime and corruption: why it became so ubiquitous', The Economist, 14 May 2016. 

'Opinion: When power rests on ability to pay bribes', DispatchLive, 14 May 2016.

'Beyond the law'Financial Times, 7 May 2016.

'This Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organised Crime', Times Higher Education, 5 May 2016.

The Origins of Nigeria's notorious 419 scams (extract from 'This Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organized Crime'), Newsweek, 9 May 2016.

For pre-publication reviews, see the publisher's website.

Author(s) / editor(s)

Stephen Ellis

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Stephen Ellis (1953-2015) was a senior researcher at the African Studies Centre Leiden and a Desmond Tutu Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the VU University, Amsterdam. He wrote groundbreaking books on the ANC, the Liberian Civil War, religion and politics in Africa, and the history of Madagascar. 


Full text, catalogue, and publisher website

How to order

You can order this book with Hurst Publishers (London). ISBN: 9781849046305. Pages: 256pp. Price: £20.00 (shipping: free).