Tuesday, August 6, 2013


ANINI THE LAW: A robber’s robber
He was born Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini; but he re-christened himself ANINI THE LAW. He sent fears and chills down the spine of many a Nigerian – particularly residents of Benin city in the old Bendel State!

To underscore his notoriety, especially the embarrassing registration of his presence in the consciousness of Nigerians right up to the Presidency, his dangerous and awe-inspiring exploits compelled then military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, to ask his Inspector General of Police, IGP, Etim Inyang, the very famous question: “My friend, where is Anini”?

Anini The Law, as he was known then, grew larger than life such that the myth woven around him was so deifying that people actually thought he was a god or some type of spirit being that he was imbued with the qualities of omnipotence, omnipresent and omniscience.

He operated a team of just about four to five members. For a skilled taxi driver who was born in a village just some 20kms from the heart of Benin city, Anini became a Capone in his own right at the motor parks; this, after serving time with some leaders of gangs in the underworld.

He was said to have struck a deal with some policemen to help suppress evidence in a case involving some members of his gang but the deal did not yield the desired result.

This, reports had it, led to his anger against the police for betraying him. It is for this reason that Oyakhire and some other very senior police officers had to be drafted to Benin for his case.  So notorious was Anini that even WIKIPEDIA could not but acknowledge that he once existed.

The Free Encyclopedia wrote of him thus:

“Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini (c. 1960 – March 29, 1987) was a Nigerian bandit who terrorized Benin City in the 1980s along with his sidekick Monday Osunbor. He was captured and executed for his crimes.


“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, 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 dived into the criminal business 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 bribe induced 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. On August, 1986, a fatal bank robbery linked to Anini was reported in which a police officer and a child 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 9 police officers. He wrote numerous letters to media houses using political tones of Robin Hood-like words to describe his criminal acts.

On December 3, 1986, he was caught at a house off a main street of Benin City in the company of a girl friend. Anini was shot in the leg, transferred to a military hospital, and had one of his legs amputated. The country’s military leader, Babangida, demanded a speedy trial.

Justice Omo-Agege, the Chairman of the First Benin Robbery and Firearms Tribunal which tried Anini and his cohorts, said it best when he wrote: '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.' Lawrence Nomayagbon Anini was arrested in Benin City on December 3, 1986, when the police opened fire on him shattering his left leg. He was tried and found guilty. On March 29, 1987, he was publicly executed by firing squad; also his friend Monday Osunbor was sentenced to death.

Culled from Vanguard