Osayi Lawrence Lawson, son of a legendary Nigerian armed robber, Lawrence Anini who reigned terror in Benin City over 30 years ago has spoken.
According to Osayi, he’s nothing like his father.
Addressing people who profile him with the works and legend of his father, Osayi says although he’s proud of his late dad, he has however not inherited his criminal behaviour.
Lawrence ‘the Law’ Anini, alias Ovbigbo was the most notorious armed robber in Nigeria’s history.
Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini, Nigeria’s acclaimed most notorious armed robber, was born sometimes in 1960. He terrorised the old Bendel State, especially its capital, Benin City in the 1980s, but in 1986, his robbery exploits reached a terrific level that it became a national issue. He operated along with his lieutenant, Monday Osunbor, and others. However, one striking feature in the Anini reign of terror was the police complicity. It was soon discovered that the Anini gang had insiders within the police hierarchy of which George Iyamu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, was their arrowhead.
Anini, dreadfully called ‘The Law’ or ‘Ovbigbo’, was born in a village about 20 miles from Benin City. He migrated to Benin at an early age, learned to drive and became a skilled taxi driver in a few years. He became known in Benin motor parks as a man who could control the varied competing interest among motor park touts and operators. He later resorted to criminal acts in the city and soon became a driver and transporter for gangs, criminal godfathers and thieves. Later on, he decided to create his own gang and they started out as car hijackers, bus robbers and bank thieves. Gradually, he extended his criminal acts to other towns 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 were tried and prosecuted against an earlier under-the-table ‘agreement’ with the police to destroy evidence against 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 fatal bank robbery linked to Anini was reported in which a police officer and others were killed.
That same month, two officers on duty were shot at a barricade while trying to stop Anini’s car.
During a span of three months, he was known to have killed nine police officers.
Finally, it took the courage of Superintendent of Police, Kayode Uanreroro to bring the Anini reign of terror to an end. On December 3, 1986, Uanreroro caught Anini at No 26, Oyemwosa Street, opposite Iguodala Primary School, Benin City, in company with six women. Acting on a tip-off from the locals, the policeman went straight to the house where Anini was hiding and apprehended him with very little resistance. Uanreroro led a crack 10-man team to the house, knocked on the door of the room, and Anini himself, clad in underpants, opened the door.
Dazed as he was caught off guard and having no escape route, Anini all the same tried to be smart. “Oh, Anini is under the bed in the inner room”. As he said it, he made some moves to walk past Uanreroro and his team. In the process, he shoved and head-butted the police officer but it was an exercise in futility.
Anini was shot in the leg, transferred to a military hospital, and had one of his legs amputated. That was after Monday Osunbor was also captured.
When Anini’s hideout was searched, police recovered assorted charms, including the one he usually wore around his waist during “operations”.
Due to amputation of his leg, Anini was confined to a wheelchair throughout his trial. Iyamu, on his part, denied ever knowing and collaborating with Anini, but Anini The Law furiously retorted, “You are a shameless liar!” Anini had accused him before Justice James Omo-Agege in the High Court of Justice, off Sapele Road in Benin City. Of the 10 police officers Anini implicated, five were convicted. The robbery suspects, including Iyamu, were sentenced to death.
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.” Their execution took place on March 29, 1987.?