Exactly 32 years in the past today, the infamous bandit who terrorised Benin City and old Bendel State the 80s , Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini A.Ok.A. “Ovbigbo” or “the Law” and a few members of his gang had been executed by firing squad after being convicted by the defunct Bendel Armed Robbery and Firearms Tribunal presided over by Justice James Omo-Agege
Anini was born in a village about 20 miles from Benin City in present-day Edo State. He migrated to Benin at an early age, realized to drive and have become a talented taxi driver. Anini grew to become identified in Benin motor parks as a person who might management the numerous competing pursuits amongst motor park touts and operators. He later dived into the legal enterprise within the metropolis and shortly grew to become a driver and transporter for gangs, legal godfathers and thieves. Later on, he determined to create his personal gang which included, Monday Osunbor, Friday Ofege, Smallie ,Henry Ekponwan, Eweka and Alhaji Zed Zed or Zegezege who was by no means captured. They began out as automotive hijackers, bus robbers and financial institution thieves. Gradually, he prolonged his legal acts to different cities and cities far north and east of Benin.
The complicity of the police is believed to have triggered Anini’s reign of terror in 1986. In early 1986, two members of his gang had been tried and prosecuted in opposition to an earlier under-the-table ‘agreement’ with the police to destroy proof in opposition to the gang members. The incident, and Anini’s view of police betrayal, is believed to have spurred retaliatory actions by Anini. In August, 1986, a deadly financial institution theft linked to Anini was reported through which a police officer (Nathaniel Egharevba)and others had been killed. That similar month, two officers on responsibility had been shot at a barricade whereas making an attempt to cease Anini’s automotive. During a span of three months, he was identified to have killed 9 law enforcement officials.
In an operation in August 1986, the Anini workforce struck at First Bank, Sabongida-Ora, the place they carted away N2,000. But though the quantity stolen was seen as rooster feed, many individuals had been killed. On September 6, similar year, the Anini gang snatched a Peugeot 504 automotive from Albert Otoe, the motive force of the well-known tremendous cop Assistant Inspector General of Police, Christopher Omeben. In snatching the automotive, they killed the motive force and went to cover his corpse someplace. It was not till three months later that the skeleton of the motive force was noticed 16 kilometers away from Benin City, alongside the Benin-Agbor freeway. A day after this assault, Anini, working in a Passat automotive believed to have been stolen, additionally effected the snatching of one other Peugeot 504 automotive close to the previous FEDECO workplace, in Benin.
Two days later, the Anini males killed two policemen in Orhiowon Local Government of the state. Still in that month, three totally different theft assaults, all pointing to Anini’s involvement, came about. They embrace the homicide of Frank Unoarumi, a former worker of the Nigerian Observer newspapers; the killing of Mrs. Remi Sobanjo, a chartered accountant, and the stealing of the Mercedes Benz automotive in Benin, of the Ughelli monarch, the Ovie. Before September 1986 drew to an in depth, Anini struck at a fuel station alongside Wire Road, Benin, the place he stole a considerable a part of the day’s gross sales. He shot the station’s attendant and gleefully began spraying his booty alongside the street for people to select. The top of Anini’s exploits, nonetheless, came about on October 1, 1986, the Independence Day when the state’s Commissioner of Police, Casmir Akagbosu was ambushed by the gang in Benin riddled his convoy in a hail of bullets. The police boss survived the assaults with severe accidents. Earlier that day additionally, the Anini males had gunned down a police man throughout the metropolis
“The Law”, as he was nicknamed, throughout an operation that went dangerous reportedly needed to escape from the police by driving in reverse for a larger a part of the space from Agbor (Delta State) to Benin City (Edo State).
Also, on October 21 of similar year, the Anini theft gang terminated the lifetime of a Benin-based medical physician, A.O Emojeve once they gunned him down alongside Textile Mill Road, in Benin. Not completed, Anini and gang went and robbed the Agbor department of African Continental Bank and carted away about N46, 000. A day after the operation, Anini, The Law, turned to a ‘Father Christmas’ as he strew wads of naira notes on the bottom without spending a dime decide by market women and men at a village close to Benin. Anini’s picture thus loomed bigger than life, dwarfing these of Ishola Oyenusi, the king of robbers within the 1970s and Youpelle Dakuro, the military deserter who masterminded essentially the most vicious daylight theft,at Boulous Enterprises in Lagos in 1978, through which two policemen had been killed. Anini thus spearheaded a four-month reign of terror between August and December 1986. Anini additionally reportedly wrote quite a few letters to media homes utilizing political tones of Robin Hood-like phrases, to explain his legal acts.
Worried by the seeming elusiveness of Anini and his gang members, the navy President, General Ibrahim Babangida then ordered a large manhunt for the kingpin and his fellow robbers. The police thus went after them, combing each a part of Bendel State the place they had been reportedly working and residing. The complete nation was gripped with concern of the robbers and their daredevil exploits.
However, Police manhunt did not cease their actions; the extra they had been hunted, the extra intensified their actions grew to become. Some of the locals within the space even started to inform tales of their invincibility and for some time, it felt like they had been by no means going to be caught. However, on the conclusion of a gathering of the Armed Forces Ruling Council , the Nation’s then highest ruling physique in October 1986, General Babangida turned to the Inspector- General of Police, Etim Inyang, and requested, ‘My friend, where is Anini?’ Apperently embarrassed, IGP Iyang might to solely inform his Commander in Chief that “We are nonetheless on the lookout for him sir”. IGP Iyang was quickly tender his discover of retirement from the drive.
At about this time, Nigerian newspapers and journals had been additionally publishing numerous stories and editorials on the ‘Anini Challenge’, the ‘Anini Saga’, the ‘Anini Factor’, ‘Lawrence Anini – the Man, the Myth’, ‘Anini, and ‘Lawrence Anini: A Robin Hood in Bendel’. The Guardian New papers requested, emphatically, in considered one of its stories: ‘Will they ever discover Anini, “The Law”?’.
An African Proverb says “on a regular basis for the thief ,at some point for the proprietor, Anini’s reign of terror was ultimately dropped at an finish along with his arreste by a police officer , Chief Superintendent of Police, Kayode Uanreroro on December 3, 1986, at No 26, Oyemwosa Street, reverse Iguodala Primary School, Benin City, in firm with six girls. Acting on a tip-off from the locals, the policeman went straight to the home the place Anini was hiding and apprehended him with little or no resistance. Uanreroro led a crack 10-man workforce to the home, knocked on the door of the room, and Anini himself, clad in underpants, opened the door. “Where is Anini,” the police officer rapidly enquired. It was believed that his lady good friend had a hand in his arrest. Many are of the opinion that the girlfriend collaborated with the police and took Anini’s charms away earlier than the police arrived. Dazed as he was caught off guard and having no escape route, Anini all the identical tried to be sensible. “Oh, Anini is under the bed in the inner room”. As he stated it, he made some strikes to stroll previous Uanreroro and his workforce. In the method, he shoved and head-butted the police officer but it surely was an train in futility. Uanreroro promptly reached for his gun, stepped arduous on Anini’s proper toes and shot at his left ankle. Anini surged ahead however the policemen took maintain of him and put him in a sitting place. They then pumped extra bullets into his shot leg and nearly severed the ankle from his total leg. Already, anguished by the excruciating pains, the policemen requested him, “Are you Anini?” And he replied, “My brother, I won’t deceive you; I won’t tell you lie, I’m Anini.”
He was from there taken to the police command headquarters the place the state’s Police Commissioner, Parry Osayande, was ready. While within the police internet, Anini who had poor command of English and will solely talk in pidgin, made a complete lot of revelations. He disclosed, for example that Osunbor, who had been arrested earlier, was his deputy, saying that Osunbor really shot and wounded the previous police boss of the state, Akagbosu
Anini was shot within the leg, transferred to a navy hospital, and had considered one of his legs amputated. That was after Monday Osunbor was additionally captured. When Anini’s hideout was searched, police recovered assorted charms, together with the one he normally wore round his waist throughout “operations”. It was instructive that after Anini was captured and dispossessed of his charms, the person who terrorised a complete state and who was imagined to be fearless out of the blue grew to become so lilly livered and began singing like a sparrow, making confessions. This was in opposition to public expectation of a daredevil hoodlum who would stay defiant to the very finish.
Shortly after the arrest of Anini and co, the dare-devil robbers started to squeal, revealing the roles performed by key law enforcement officials and males, within the aiding and abetting of criminals in Bendel State and all the
nation. Due to the amputation of his leg, Anini was confined to a wheelchair all through his trial.
Anini significantly revealed that Deputy Supretendent of Police Iyamu, who was essentially the most senior police officer shielding the robbers, would reveal police secrets and techniques to them after which, give them logistic helps reminiscent of arms, to hold out theft operations.
He additional revealed that Iyamu, after every operation, would be part of them in sharing the loot. It was additional uncovered how Iyamu deliberate to kill Christopher Omeben, an Assistant Inspector-General of Police accountable for Intelligence and Investigation. But Iyamu was later to be disillusioned because the assailants dispatched to remove Omeben had been solely capable of kill his driver, Otue, a sergeant. Iyamu, whom the robbers fondly known as ‘Baba’, reportedly had selection buildings in Benin City; being how he invested the loots he obtained from males of the underworld. Iyamu, on his half, denied ever realizing and collaborating with Anini. But Anini stood his floor .Of the 10 law enforcement officials Anini implicated, 5 had been convicted. The theft suspects, together with Iyamu, had been sentenced to dying.
But in passing his judgement, Justice Omo-Agege remarked, “Anini will forever be remembered in the history of crime in this country, but it would be of unblessed memory. Few people if ever, would give the name to their children.” The execution of Anini and the remaining members of his gang came about on the final Saturday of March ,1987. Osunbor and DSP Iyamu had been executed few weeks earlier.