The fourth issue of the Risk Bulletin of Illicit Economies in West Africa focuses primarily on the Sahel region, an area suffering from high levels of violence, conflict and instability.


  1. 1. Cattle rustling spikes in Mali amid increasing political isolation: Mopti region emerges as epicentre.

  2. Armed groups, including jihadists, are central players in the lucrative cattle-rustling economy, exerting significant control over the market in certain areas and exploiting existing community vulnerabilities. The 2021 uptick in cattle rustling has occurred in parallel with Mali’s growing political isolation and linked shifts in the country’s security tectonics.
  3. 2. Banditry in northern Niger: geographic diffusion and multiplication of perpetrators.

  4. A bandit attack on 8 April 2022 that left two Nigerien military officers dead illustrates two trends shaping armed banditry dynamics in northern Niger since late 2021, namely the geographic diffusion of bandit attacks and the fragmentation of the actors responsible for them.
  5. 3. The strategic logic of kidnappings in Mali and Burkina Faso.

  6. The kidnapping industry in central Mali and northern Burkina Faso surged in 2021 and this trend shows no signs of slowing in 2022, with most victims being locals caught in the battle between the numerous armed groups operating in the region.
  7. 4. A surge in cybercrime in Oyo State, Nigeria, has triggered a spike in arrests and the involvement of anti-crime group Amotekun, but alternative responses are needed.

  8. Law enforcement has scaled up responses in Oyo State, and particularly the state capital Ibadan, a cybercrime hub where a group of cybercriminals, known locally as ‘Yahoo Boys’, are prominent. However, responses appear to be missing the mark.

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Cattle Rustling in Mali