Seminar by Stephen Ellis: A history of Nigerian organized crime


Video duration: 
1 h 23 min.

Read the paper Stephen Ellis wrote for this ASC seminar:  'A history of Nigerian organised crime'.

Probably everybody reading this abstract has received an unexpected e-mail communication promising a huge sum of money or an impossibly attractive business transaction. The sender requires in return some basic personal information, perhaps including bank account details. This is an advance fee fraud, known in Nigeria as a Four One Nine, as it is an infraction of Article 419 of that country’s criminal code. Nigerian criminals have played a leading role in developing this form of fraud in modern times. If we ask how and why this particular form of fraud developed in Nigeria, we are led into a history of crime. In reflecting on how to do research on the history of organised and professional crime in Nigeria, it seems that we must begin in 1914 for two reasons. First, Nigeria was created in its contemporary form in that year. Second, before that time many parts of what is now Nigeria did not have modern states or written law, and it is difficult to conceive of crime in its current sense outside its definition in state law. In this seminar ASC senior researcher Stephen Ellis will show how certain types of criminal practice developed in Nigeria - often quite recently - and indeed how the state itself has become a vehicle for organised crime.

Read the report on Organized Crime in Southern Africa (June 2014), based on a workshop ininiated by Stephen Ellis and organized by The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

ASC Stephen Ellissenior researcher Stephen Ellis is a historian with a broad range of interests in contemporary history and politics. His most recent book, entitled 'External Mission: The ANC in Exile 1960-1990' was awarded the Recht Malan Prize for Non-Fiction in South Africa. It's a meticulous study of the little-known history of the ANC's long period of exile. His well received book 'Season of Rains: Africa in the World' is an overview of Africa's place in contemporary history. In addition to his work at the ASC, Stephen Ellis is the Desmond Tutu Professor of Youth, Sport and Reconciliation at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the VU University, Amsterdam. He is a member of various editorial boards, including that of the journal African Affairs, of which he is a former editor.

Date, time and location

22 January 2015
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 5A23 (5th floor)