Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Ex-milad, Oyakhire
What role did you play in the arrest of the notorious armed robber, Lawrence Anini, and members of his gang?

I was a Principal Staff Officer at the Supreme Headquarters when five Commissioners of Police and myself, a Detective Assistant Commissioner, were drafted to Bendel State in 1986 on a rescue mission (operation). Actually, I was the Head of General Investigation Department at Force CID, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi in Lagos but temporarily deployed to Supreme Headquarters, Dodan Barracks, Lagos. At the peak of the Anini crisis, General BABANGIDA allowed me to proceed to Benin because the then Inspector General of Police, Chief Etim INYANG, had made a request for me to join others in the national assignment. He knew the officers who would do the job expeditiously and satisfactorily.

In Bendel State, I was the Assistant Commissioner in charge of the state CID. My office was the memory and clearing house of the Command. I was the co-ordinator of the entire operations. We did the job carefully and, by the grace of God, none of us died in the process. Within three months, guided by God, intelligence, loyalty and patriotism, we arrested all the violent criminals.

The leader of the vicious group was a young man called Lawrence Anini, aged-24 years and a driver of average intelligence. Others, who included Monday OSUNBOR, the armourer of the team, IHEBELUA, Godwin OSEMWENKHIAN and a police driver IYAMU were active in the syndicate. One striking thing about Osunbor was his dexterity for guns. He had no military or police training and was never regimented.  He did not even complete his Benin Technical College course but could dismantle an SMG or a rifle and recouple it. I can still recall these details very vividly after 27 years because I was the principal investigator of the case.

Besides, I am a trained forensic detective of the New Scotland Yard fame. We were exposed to the best training within and outside Nigeria. For example, we trained in Bramishill, Wakefield and Hendon in the UK, New Scotland Yard of the Metropolitan Police in London and elsewhere in the world. We had the capacity to learn, learnt very well and do not easily forget.

The Nigeria Police in which I served performed conventional police functions and was generally responsible for internal security. It supported the Prisons, Immigration and Customs Services as well as performed military duties within and outside Nigeria. Nine policemen and 18 civilians were murdered by ANINI’S armed gang who successfully robbed 12 banks before the rescue team of six senior police officers led by DIG Parry OSAYANDE arrived in Bendel State.

The syndicate confidently robbed banks in day light and threw money at women in crowded markets as a show of bravery to earn sympathy and popularity. Our mission was to carefully, professionally and methodically apprehend and remove the outlaws from criminal circulation. We did exactly that without killing them. We arrested them because we knew that if killed in the process and their dead bodies put on the TV, people might not be convinced that such dead bodies were those of Anini and his cohorts. When arrested, they didn’t hesitate to disclose their escapades during interrogation.

They were allowed to speak and indeed they spoke to Nigerians. We put them in the Military Hospital, Benin and we invited journalists who interviewed them from time to time for public consumption.

The success of the operation was impressive.  It was after then that people said publicly, “so, ANINI is a weak human being after all”. We interrogated them thoroughly, completed investigation and DPP in the Ministry of Justice, Benin prosecuted the case in the tribunal. They were found guilty having been successfully prosecuted to conviction.
They were sentenced to death by firing.  I returned to Lagos after the saga long before they were publicly executed. All the six of us who participated in the operation returned to our stations except the leader of the team, DIG Parry OSAYANDE, who was redeployed to Calabar as Commissioner of Police. He was the Benue State Command Commissioner before he came for the Anini saga. The operations were massively carried out along clearly defined lines, mutatis mutandis (with necessary changes) in the spirit of patriotism. We apprehended the outlaws carefully in different places without hindrance or tragic loss of any of the operatives. The overwhelming success of the operation brought peace, security, stability and development to Bendel State.