This study explores the dark side of transparency by problematizing the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) as a transparency, accountability and anti-corruption initiative in Nigeria. It does this by interrogating the underlying assumptions that transparency in the form of increased information disclosure inevitably leads to enhanced accountability and reduced corruption. Theoretic insights are drawn from the transparency literature as well as from the International Accounting Standards Board's framework for financial reporting. The findings enable a more nuanced understanding of transparency – where and when transparency works, and where and when it may lead to unintended outcomes. They show how increased information disclosure conceals and legitimises the weak and corrupt reporting systems and practices of government agencies. They highlight the importance of understandability of information disclosed as a key requirement of transparency. They illustrate that transparency is a complex social process by highlighting the means by which the government tries to gain control of the NEITI organisation and how NEITI's ability to operate effectively is dependent on the political will of the government in power. The findings also demonstrate that the instrument through which transparency is enacted is itself a central actor in the transparency process as historical corruption within the NEITI bureaucracy as well as the opacity of NEITI as an organisation lead to outcomes of distrust, uncertainty and doubt amongst NEITIs target audience.