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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Hijacking Civil Society: The Inside Story of the Bakassi Boys Vigilante Group in South-Eastern Nigeria
Author:Meagher, KateISNI
Periodical:Journal of Modern African Studies
Geographic term:Nigeria
Subjects:vigilante groups
political violence
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Politics and Government
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/4486721
Abstract:Analyses of the rise of violent vigilantism in Africa have focused increasingly on the 'uncivil' character of African society. This article challenges the recourse to cultural or instrumentalist explanations, in which vigilantism is portrayed as a reversion to violent indigenous institutions of law and order based on secret societies and occultist practices, or is viewed as a product of the contemporary institutional environment of clientelism and corruption in which youth struggle for their share of patronage resources. The social and political complexities of contemporary African vigilantism are revealed through an account of the rise and derailment of the infamous Bakassi Boys vigilante group of southeastern Nigeria. Based on extensive fieldwork among the shoe producers of Aba who originally formed the Bakassi Boys in 1998, this article traces the process through which popular security arrangements were developed and subsequently hijacked by opportunistic political officials engaged in power struggles between the state and federal governments. Detailing the strategies and struggles involved in the process of political hijack, this inside account of the Bakassi Boys reveals the underlying resilience of civil notions of justice and public accountability in contemporary Africa. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]