Over the course of the Nigerian Civil War (1967–70), many people in the secessionist Republic of Biafra resorted to forgery, confidence scams, and other forms of fraud to survive the dire conditions created by Nigeria's blockade. Forgery of passes and other documents, fraudulent commercial transactions, and elaborate schemes involving impersonation and racketeering became common in Biafra, intensifying as the Biafran government's ability to enforce the law diminished. Using long-neglected legal records from Biafra's courts and tribunals, this study traces the process by which deception emerged as a practice of survival in wartime Biafra – a process with important implications for the growth of fraud (known as ‘419’ after the relevant section of the Nigerian criminal code) in reintegrated postwar Nigeria.
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