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Nigeria’s daredevil Robbers

By ENYERIBE EJIOGU ( they were vicious men that dealt in blood. The mere mention of their names sent shivers down the spines of people. They were merciless and seemed to get a kick from killing in cold blood. Wherever they operated, they left a trail of blood. And any of their victims that was not shot dead instantly, was left maimed and in great pain. One of them even attempted to wipe out a whole family all because a daughter of the family jilted him. Their names are on shortlist that like a roll call of the deadliest robbers that shook Nigeria: Oyenusi, Mighty Joe, Shina Rambo, Vampire and Anini.

Oyenusi, ‘The Doctor’ of robbery Ishola Oyenusi, who was known as ‘The Doctor’ seized the South West part of Nigeria by jugular as his gang ran riot in the early 70s. His ability to strike and escape, almost effortlessly left mud on the faces of the police. This made the police look like morons. It was widely believed that the notorious robbers had special charms that allowed him to disappear. He was even said to have boasted that bullets had no power over him, neither could they pierce his body.

Nobody believed that he could be captured, let alone being executed. But that myth held until the day he was executed by firing squad at the famous Bar Beach in Lagos on September 8, 1971. An estimated crowd of more than 30,000 people trooped out to behold his end. Lagos was literally shutdown, to allow Lagosians watch the ‘show.’
Even as he faced the phalanx of stern-looking army sharp-shooters who lined up before him and his men as they were tied up on stakes with sand-filled drums behind them, Oyenusi continued to smile, in disdain of the soldiers, apparently believing very strongly that the power of his much vaunted charms would whisk off the bullets like the magic wand of witches seen in the movies. In a hail of bullets, the soldiers tore the myth of Oyenusi’s invincibility to shreds and his head bowed in death.

Oyenusi’s reign of terror made him the first robber to be celebrated by the media, because of the audacity of his robbery attacks and how he killed with impunity. He was the undisputed king of robbers in his time. It was like he wrote the manual on bloody robberies.
From what has been pieced together about him, Oyenusi’s robbery career began in 1959, but the very incident that announced him as a big league robber happened along Herbert Macaulay Road in Yaba, Lagos, when he snatched a car and shot the owner dead. What was his reason: his girlfriend was broke and needed money to buy her make-up.
He sold the car for £400 (Nigeria’s currency then), and gave the money to the lady. He actually snatched the first car he saw on the road. Such was the ferocious nature of his audacity.

By the end of the civil war, Oyenusi had metamorphosed into a cold-hearted robber who took delight in causing pain to his victims. He had a huge dose of arrogance; it seemed to ooze from every pore in his skin. Even after the police arrested him, he still talked tough. As the policeman was ordering him around, Oyenusi was reported to have dressed him down , saying with bravado: “People like you don’t talk to me like that when I am armed. I gun them down.”
Oyenusi was arrested in his house in Ibadan by a police officer who recognised him.
The cup of his iniquity, filled with the various robberies he organised and executed with his gang spilled when he attacked the WAHUM factory in Ikeja in March, 1971, and carted away the sum of £28,000, which was an enormous amount in those days. The killing of the police officer on duty there was like the stroke that broke the camel’s back and set the stage for his capture.

On the day he was executed, Oyenusi smiled as the crowd booed and jeered at him. Just before a hail of bullets silenced him, Oyenusi screamed out: “I am dying for the offense I have committed.”
The terror of the South-west, who had boasted that bullets had no power over him slumped in death within seconds.
Lawrence Anini who styled himself ‘The Law’
The robbery exploits of Lawrence Anini in old Bendel State loomed so large that many must have expected him to be a man of imposing physique. But when he was eventually captured, his diminutive stature was a far cry from the expectation of many.
Born in 1960 in of Owuo quarters in Orogbo village, Orhionmwon area of the state, Anini dropped out from school and tried to learn a trade as a mechanic, but it was short-lived as he was caught and expelled for stealing N7. He then learnt how to drive trucks and haul goods. He also formed a gang of bad boys and engaged in hooliganism. With the dawn of politics in 1979, he became a political thug and learnt how to use firearms. But the return of the military in 1984 ended his career in political thuggery and he easily switched over to armed robbery. That was when he met and became close friends with Kingsley Eweka, a prince of Benin, who was eventually arrested and executed for armed robbery in mid 1986. Before he was executed, Eweka was reported to have uttered a cryptic word that his friend, who he did not name, would avenge his death. Typical of our police then, no effort was made to decode what he said.

True to Eweka’s prediction, his friend, Anini, began a murderous campaign against the police in July 1986, killing policemen on sight during robbery operations or at other times. The slaying of policemen by Anini’s gang hit the climax on the night of October 1, 1986, when his gang attacked a new Peugeot 504 car close to a police road block set up along Ring Road in the heart of Benin City. Unknown to Anini and his gang, the then Commissioner of Police, Casmir Akagbosu was the VIP passenger in the back seat.
The car was riddled with bullets. Akagbosu escaped death by the whiskers as a bullet tore through the bridge of his nose. As Akagbosu fought for life in a hospital, Parry Osayande, then Benue State Commissioner of Police was transferred to Bendel Police Command with one main objective: arrest Anini and end his menace. On Wednesday, October 3, 1986, Anini fell into the net carefully woven by the police to catch him. His attempt to flee was thwarted by the 10-man police team led by Chief Superintendent Kayode Uanreroro, who poured bullets into his legs, shattering his ankle in the process.

In the course of interrogation he made the earth shaking revelation that George lyamu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) in the state gave his gang enormous support and revealed vital intelligence on the police to them. Tried and condemned to death by the Bendel State Firearms Tribunal, Anini was executed on March 28, 1987 with a volley of bullets.
Abiodun Egunjobi the robber known as Godogodo
For many years, Abiodun Egunjobi, alias Godogodo, was a thorn in the flesh of the police in the South-west, particularly the Lagos State Police Command, when Umar Manko was the commissioner of police and Abba Kyari headed SARS, the Special Armed Robbery Squad of the command. In Nigeria’s armed robbery underworld at the time, his trademark was to organize heists in which huge amounts of raw cash could be taken. At that time he was on the Most Wanted List of the Lagos Police Command.

In some sense, the undiscriminating criminal justice system, sloppy police investigation and prosecution turned Godogodo into a hardened criminal who put scant value on human life. He killed policemen without qualms.
Before Godogodo’s criminal career began, he was a scrap dealer in Gatankowa, Abule-Egba, Lagos, where he got into a fight and was arrested by the police. Unable to secure bail, he was in prison for seven years. In his mind, his ordeal was an injustice, which he blamed on the police.

While serving the sentence, he became acquainted with deadly armed robbers who mentored him. After leaving prison, he resolved to avenge himself on the police for sending him to jail. Godogodo formed a deadly gang and began committing high-end robberies that targeted banks and other locations where a haul of cash could be taken.
His most significant robbery was the Black Sunday robbery incident that took place on September 9, 2012, when bureau de change operators lost over US$350,000 in one day.

But on August 1, 2013, he was arrested by the police without the loss of one officer. In that operation, the police displayed stealth and patience. Really, Godogodo had always boasted to his men that the police would never get him alive. Rather he would kill many policemen in any attempt to capture him. But in the end, his main house and hideout in Ibadan, which was strewn with loaded AK47 rifles in every conceivable space (kitchen, toilet, bedroom, sitting room) was the very place that the police bagged him and without a gun battle as he had envisioned and prepared for.

Godogodo disguised his source of income very well such that even his wife and family members never knew about his involvement in bank robberies. He had houses in different states of the South-west, which served as hideouts but he never stayed for more than one month in any of them. He also operated 52 fishponds, which allowed him to be seen as a successful businessman. He was a teetotaler, who didn’t smoke or drank alcohol. He didn’t socialize or womanise, but projected a façade of a responsible family man.

He had a reputation for going for robbery operations with a bag filled with 10 loaded AK47 rifles and spare magazines, ready for any eventuality. In the course of interrogation by the police, he told them that he never had a bank account, preferring to invest all his money in real estate.

Millions, bank robbery kingpin who loved to disguise as a woman

He became known by the moniker, Millions. It had a certain exciting and romantic sound, which his real name, Clement Abanara, just didn’t have. From early life, he was acquainted with the pain of poverty. So, he set for himself a goal: to escape from the clutches of poverty, by any means possible. He would either get rich quick and have money in the millions or die trying. Armed robbery offered the only option for him and he took it like fish to water.
Millions was as slippery as an eel, and for quite some time effectively evaded the police after daredevil and audacious robbery operations carried out by his gang against banks. He also had his fingers in kidnapping. It was said that he always disguised as a woman. After one his robbery attacks in Festac Town, Lagos, witnesses recalled that a woman appeared to have been the leader of the gang, spraying bullets and giving instructions to members of the gang as the heist progressed.

Until operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, SIRT, led by Abba Kyari, arrested him, Millions was said to have participated in major bank robberies in Lekki, Ikorodu, and Agbara. The gang would strike in a well-coordinated and successful manner and then disperse, to lie low while waiting for the next hit. Their main targets were bank branches located close to the waterways that encircle Lagos (for which it is known as the state of aquatic splendor) and connect with the Atlantic Ocean. Their robbery operations were always executed with high power speedboats, which provided them quick getaway back to their hideouts in the Niger Delta.
But on a certain weekend, the road ended for Millions as he was bagged in an apartment in Osayande Estate, Benin, Edo State, by SIRT operatives who had been on his trail, stalking him like a leopard and with the patience of a vulture.

The breakthrough that led to the arrest of Millions happened when Kelly Fotor, who was suspected to be a member of the gang was arrested at a wedding in Sapele, Delta State. In the course of interrogation, he revealed that Million was the only member of the gang who disguised as a woman during operations. It was from him that the police learnt that Millions also engaged kidnapping. He was alleged to have abducted the former Majority Leader of Lagos State

House of Assembly, Tofeeq Adeniji, in Lagos, and ferried him to Delta State. The gang demanded N30 million ransom, but this was negotiated down to N4million. However, when Adeniji’s son went to deliver the money, he too was kidnapped. Both father and son were released together after additional ransom was paid.Through diligent detective work, the police identified and trailed the wife of Millions to Warri Delta State, where she was arrested. She subsequently led detectives to the rented apartment in Benin, and Millions was nabbed.

Mighty Joe, the strongman of Idi Oro, Mushin
Isiaka Busari, known by his nickname, Mighty Joe, was the terror of Mushin, a part of metropolitan Lagos, notorious for criminality. Mushin has always been a jungle of sorts. It threw up Mighty Joe, who started off as a thug and quickly graduated into armed robbery. He was so much feared in the area, and not a few people must have prayed that he would fall into the cold embrace of the law.
In due time, nemesis caught up with him the day he snatched a wallet containing just N10 from a certain Mr. Michael Osayunana, a bar attendant in a hotel.

He was arrested, tried and sentenced to death by firing squad. On the day he was executed at the Bar Beach on June 6, 1973, Mighty Joe was driven from the Kirikiri prison under the escort of six lorry-loads of fierce-looking, heavily armed mobile policemen. He was executed along with Bashiru Fatola, an ex-soldier.
Just before a fusillade of bullets silenced him, Mighty Joe, who had converted to Islam while in detention said his last words: “May God bless everybody, both my friends and enemies. Tell my wife, my mother and my in-law to keep fit.”
Shina Rambo: Notorious robber who found Christ in prison
Standing at a height of 6ft 5inches, he was like Andre The Giant, that popular wrestler in the IWF, a wrestling programme of the International Wrestling Federation on television, which featured the likes of Mil Mascaras (the man of 1000 masks), Mighty Igor, and other interesting wrestlers, in the 1980s.

Nobody ever wanted to be nearby or witness a Shina Rambo operation. He was a terror from hell in the South west and Benin Republic in the 1990s.
During operations, Shina Rambo wore bullet belts and carried sophisticated weapons. His very dark skin and towering height made him appear more menacing. His trademark was to snatch exotic cars on the highway and rob banks. In one particular incident, he was said to have snatched over 40 cars, which were driven in a convoy to Benin Republic, where he usually sold the stolen vehicles.

Strangely, the police could not arrest him until he turned himself in and was tried and sentenced to prison for 11 years at Agodi Prison, Ibadan, Oyo State. While serving the jail term, he became converted during a visit by Prophet T.O Obadare, who prayed for him after hearing his story and then changed his name Oluwanifemi. During the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Shina Rambo was granted freedom, and he became an evangelist.

Vampire, kidnap kingpin who killed over 200 people
In full demonstration of the devilish nickname, Vampire, which he adopted, Henry Chibueze, shed blood as easily as a person would spit. With just a pull on the trigger of his gun, he would end the life of a victim as if he squashed a cockroach.

He treated other people’s lives with scorn but desperately wanted to protect his own, hence he organized an audacious escape from custody as he was standing trial before a High Court in Owerri, Imo State, when his men sprung him at the premises of the court on January 27, 2017, moments after he was brought from prison for the continuation of hearing on his case.

That incident left security agencies spattered with the mud of embarrassment. It fired them up and they vowed to bring him in dead or alive. But they seemed to have chosen the first option. There was joy when Vampire was gunned down in the middle of the night in a forest in Ikwerre Local Government Area, Rivers State, during a shootout with the police.

As his mother revealed in a recent interview, Vampire killed for the first time, when he was just 12 years old. From then on he descended into a life of criminality, growing from a thug into a robber. He formed gangs as he grew in infamy and notoriety. With time he became a dreaded armed robber and kidnapping kingpin, responsible for many high profile abductions in Imo, Rivers, Delta and other Southeast and South-south states.
Of all the bloody incidents he was associated, perhaps the worst and chilling was the brutal multiple murder of his girlfriend, Sandra Ijedinma and eight members of her family in one night at Ikotun, Lagos. Among the victims were six children. He allegedly accused her of stealing N45 million which was his share from a N110 million ransom collected from a family of one of their kidnap victims in Omoku, Rivers State.

When he was eventually arrested, he confessed during interrogation that he was responsible for the killing of a member of the Imo State House of Assembly at Orji in 2015. He also disclosed that his gang abducted and eventually murdered the wife of a traditional ruler in Mbaise, Imo State. The corpse of the woman has not been found till date. He was also said to have killed three members, including a woman, from a particular family in Nkwere in 2012 after collecting ransom from the family.
During the run of his murderous career in robbery and kidnapping, Vampire acknowledged that he had killed more than 200 people. In fact, while in police custody after being arrested by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), he was quoted as having said: “I am happy that I was arrested. I want my head to cool down a little. I have killed many people.”

The demise of Vampire was made possible by the IGP Special Intelligence Response Team, SIRT, which tracked him down to the forest in Rivers State, where he was shot dead.