Security is one of the criteria to determine a good living society. While we celebrate heroes, it is important for us to note criminal lords who gave the Nigerian people sleepless nights. These criminals, as well as their tyranny, should go down in history as examples of individuals who should never be emulated.
The following are examples of prominent Nigerian criminals whose reigns were documented in a movie.
1. The law; real name Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini
Lawrence Nomayagbon Anini, 26, was Nigeria’s most infamous criminal in the 1980s. He reigned supreme in the old Bendel State, now Edo and Delta. He was so ruthless that his case was brought up at a State Security Council meeting under General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime, who had ordered that Anini be brought to justice, alive or dead.
His image was larger than life. It dwarfed those of Ishola Oyenusi—the King of robbers in the 1970s and Youpelle Dakuro—the army deserter who masterminded the most vicious daylight robbery in Lagos in 1978.
Lawrence started out as a car snatcher, bus robber and bank thief predominantly in Benin. Anini and his gang extended their criminal acts to other towns and cities in other states in the country.
It was said that Anini was able to penetrate the police echelon and got supplies of guns from them. His top informant Inspector George Iyamu who benefited immensely from the gang was the reason why he was very successful with most of his crime raids.
While he and his gang reigned; they killed, maimed, kidnapped, robbed, and raped their victims. The events were played out with growing sophistication, audacity, and arrogance.
The end of Law’s reign
Law was arrested in a major operation led by Superintendent of Police Kayode Uanreroro. The arrest took place in Benin City on December 3, 1986. His leg was also shattered at the operation when the police opened life rounds on him.
On March 29, 1987, he was publicly executed by firing squad by Justice Omo-Agege.
His famous documented movie ‘Anini’ and ‘Lawrence Anini’ surfaced reliving the stories of his reign.
2. Ishola Oyenusi
Popularly known as Dr Ishola, was a Nigerian notorious armed robber in his time who was active during the 1970s. His modus operandi was carjackings, bank robberies and heists committed during hold-ups. He and his gang were known for killing people like chickens.
Dr Ishola was known as the father of crimes. He came shortly after the civil war and his reign took the nation by storm. His first robbery, a car theft (whose owner was killed by him) was done to meet up his broke girlfriend needs, who needed money to buy makeup. Ishola was said to be very romantic and loved his girlfriend dearly.
He robbed banks in daylight and nights and never spared his victim or anyone he met, he killed them all! This earned him the name ‘Dr rob and kill”. He also bragged about how he couldn’t be killed by any bullet, owning to the fact he used charms for his operations. He was famed for ‘disappearing’ or his body not penetrable by bullets. In fact, he had so much faith in his charms that he smiled all the way to the stake. Even as soldiers aimed their rifles at him and his co-criminals, Oyenusi still radiated an aura of invincibility.
He glorified his crimes so much that he would kill even for a stick of cigarette.
The end of Dr Ishola
The last robbery that did him in; was when he and his gang attacked the WAHUM factory in Ikeja in March 1971. They had stolen a princely sum of £28,000 at the operation, which was unprecedented in those days. A police officer was also killed in the process. When arrested, he mentioned his accomplices and was said to have said: “I didn’t commit the crime alone, so I won’t die alone”
Ishola Oyenusi’s execution was celebrated by relieved Nigerians who trooped out En-masse to the Bar Beach in Lagos to witness the end of a criminal who held the country to ransom.
As the crowd thronged the Beach, jeering and booing Oyenusi and his band of six convicted robbers; the man of the moment kept smiling and waving at them. Shortly before his body was riddled with hot-leaded bullets from soldiers of the Nigerian Army; he screamed, “I am dying for the offence I have committed.”
His famous documented movies are: ‘The Rise and Fall of Dr Oyenusi(1977)’ and ‘Oyenusi’.
3. Derico, real name Okwudili Ndiwe
Derico reigned in the eastern part of Nigeria in the 2000s. The 22-year-old criminal was probably the King of the Underworld in the Eastern parts of the country; a clear replication of the likes of Lawrence Anini and Ishola Oyenusi.
Derico had risen from a street urchin and pickpocket to a dreaded crime king. The mere mention of his name sent shivers down the spines of traders and residents of Onitsha, Anambra State. His crimes also reached other parts of the east.
He was described as the symbol of terror. His activities went across, Nnewi to Nkpor, from the villages in Umuleri to towns in Ihiala. Both the old and young were terrified at the mere whisper of Derico Nwamama. He was that powerful.
His witch doctors were so powerful that he was never caught by the policemen or soldiers. He could disappear during operations and no gun could pierce him. He was known to have killed over 100 policemen in his reign.
His reign also caused sleepless nights for traders at Onitsha, closed many banks and was a concern for travellers coming to the east as he was known to rub buses, killing victims in the bus.
The end of Derico
With the police and other security forces unable to bring Derico Nwamama and his terror regime to a close; the onus fell on the Bakassi Boys, the militant wing of the Anambra Vigilante Services (AVS), to curb crime and criminality in the Southeast.
On Tuesday, July 3, 2001, the hitherto invisible criminal was nabbed on his way to Onitsha from Agbor, ostensibly on one of his crime sprees.
On July 9, 2001, six days after Derico was captured at the Niger Bridge, the Bakassi Boys did to him what many predicted.
Before his death, Derico begged for mercy and pleaded that the Bakassi boys spare his life. Several guns were fired in an attempt to kill him by the Bakassi boys but none pierced him. What was to follow remains one of the most macabre displays of public executions in Nigeria.
With the speed of a guillotine, a cutlass handled in the strong arm of one of the Bakassi Boys flew and came down with an unforgiving thud, landing on Derico’s neck. In a flash, Derico was beheaded.
His severed head rolled on the floor before the crowd while his convulsing body collapsed on the ground, with bright red blood gushing from his carotid arteries.
His most famous documented movies are: ‘Issakaba’, ‘Derico and Bakassi’ and ‘Derico’
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