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The Bakassi Boys: fighting crime in Nigeria

  • Johannes Harnischfeger (a1)

Nigeria's police and judiciary have failed to protect its citizens and have therefore lost all credibility. European principles of justice have likewise become discredited. Militias like the Bakassi Boys offer a popular alternative, which includes public executions and the use of the occult in fighting evil. But the growing fear of crime is only one reason why ‘jungle justice’ may spread. Governors and influential politicians help finance armed vigilante groups, and may make use of young men with machetes and pump-action shotguns to intimidate political opponents. As an ethnic militia that is ready to defend the interests of the ‘Igbo nation’, the Bakassi Boys have also been used to kill members of other ethnic groups. In many parts of Nigeria, ethnic and religious communities are preparing for ‘self-defence’, because they have no trust in the ability of democratic institutions to settle their conflicts.

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The Journal of Modern African Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-278X
  • EISSN: 1469-7777
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-modern-african-studies
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