25 Jan 2024

Organised crime in Africa / Self-defence groups as a response to crime and conflict in West Africa

This report outlines lessons learned from cross-continental experiences to build a more effective framework to mitigate the risks and harness the benefits of these groups.

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Self-defence groups have proliferated across West Africa. While these groups are often considered key sources of resilience for local communities, they often pose major political and security concerns. Given their entrenchment in many contexts in the region, this report outlines what lessons can be learned from cross-continental experiences towards building a more effective framework to mitigate the risks and harness the benefits of self- defence groups.


About the authors

Romain Le Cour Grandmaison is a senior expert at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC). His work focuses on criminal organisations, the state and violence in Mexico and Central America. He holds a PhD in political science from Sorbonne University.

Flore Berger is a senior analyst in the Observatory of Illicit Economies in West Africa at the GI-TOC. She specialises in conflict dynamics in the central Sahel, particularly issues related to the governance of non- state armed groups and their engagement in transnational organised crime in the region.

Kingsley Madueke is the Nigeria Research Coordinator at the GI-TOC. He is also a lecturer at the Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies, University of Jos, Nigeria.

Lucia Bird Ruiz Benitez de Lugo is the director of the Observatory of Illicit Economies in West Africa at the GI-TOC. Lucia’s work focuses on the intersection of illicit economies, conflict and instability, and she previously worked as a legal and policy adviser to the Punjab Government, Pakistan, and the Ministry of Finance, Ghana.

Lyes Tagziria is a senior analyst at the GI-TOC. He has researched a wide range of illicit economies globally, is the editor of the Observatory of Illicit Economies in West Africa’s quarterly Risk Bulletin and was previously a senior member of the GI-TOC’s Organized Crime Index team.


Image: © Le Pictorium/Alamy Stock Photo; Prince Dr Dapo Abiodun via Twitter (composite image – Amotekun and Koglweogo groups)

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union and the German Federal Foreign Office under the OCWAR-T project. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the German Federal Foreign Office.

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