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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.

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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 ‘Lucid, starkly realistic, and beautifully written, this book calls into sharp focus the nature of corruption in Nigeria.

Ellis provides an insightful explanation for why reform programmes almost always end in disappointment.

In a book replete with juju, secret societies, early-colonial and modern-day slavery, prostitution, fraud, drugs, oil theft, pirates, and insurgents, what stands out most is the crime perpetrated by those who rule the Nigerian state.

Ellis spares no-one: not the generals who take power, not the elected civilian leaders, and not Nigerian society.

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He wrote groundbreaking books on the ANC, the Liberian Civil War, religion and politics in Africa, and the history of Madagascar.

Stephen Ellis, one of Britain’s most accomplished Africanists, provides a cautionary reminder of how much tougher the job is now, and how blurred the lines between officially sanctioned and illicit activity have become …

It provides a depth of understanding of how Nigeria’s works and why that is unprecedented.

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