From Anini to Evans: Top 10 criminals that shook Nigeria in five decades | Dailytrust

From Anini to Evans: Top 10 criminals that shook Nigeria in five decades

Top 10 criminals that shook Nigeria
Top 10 criminals that shook Nigeria

A number of prominent Nigerians have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen careers and written their names boldly in the hall of fame, so also are some Nigerians who have gained notoriety as dreaded criminals. From infamous Lawrence Anini aka The Law, who reigned supreme as Nigeria’s most notorious armed robber in the 80s to Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (popularly known as Evans), who was recently sentenced to life imprisonment, Daily Trust Saturday highlights top 10 criminals who gave security agencies in the country a run for their money in the past 50 years.

Lawrence Anini aka ‘The Law’

Lawrence Anini remains Nigeria’s most notorious armed robber to have terrorised the country. “The Law” had a field day in the 80s carrying out deadly attacks in the old Bendel State, now Edo and Delta states.

He was finally arrested alongside six women in an operation led by Kayode Uanreroro, a retired Superintendent of Police, on December 3, 1986.

Anini was confined to a wheelchair throughout his trial following the amputation of one of his legs and was sentenced to death by Justice James Omo-Agege of the Benin High Court. He was executed on March 29, 1987. 

Ishola Oyenusi

Like Anini, ‘Doctor’ Oyenusi was a robbery ‘generalissimo’ who held the western part of the country in the jugular. Oyenusi was a cold-blooded armed robber who held sway in the early 70s. He was eventually apprehended and executed on September 8, 1971, at the famous Bar Beach show witnessed by about 30,000 Nigerians. Famed for his supernatural power, it was hard to believe Oyenusi could be captured.

At the nadir of his criminal escapades, he was reported to have boasted that “bullet has no power over me.”

His last robbery operation was at WAHUM factory in Ikeja in March 1971, where he and his gang members stole the sum of £28,000 and killed a police officer in the process. 

Sina Rambo

Sina Rambo who hailed from Abeokuta, Ogun State, was another fearsome criminal in Nigeria’s history. He was a prolific terror in the 90s and the brains behind many attacks in the South West where he robbed and killed with impunity.

He was reportedly on his way to Lanrewaju Motors to buy a Pathfinder SUV when he was apprehended by the police at the Ojota New Garage. He wanted to disarm a policeman questioning him over a lot of money in his car trunk when another officer at the other side of the road shot him.

Another account has it that the person killed was not the real Shina Rambo. A repentant criminal, Mathew Oluwanifemi, who claimed to be the real Rambo, is now a man of God. 


Okwudili Ndiwe, alias Derico Nwamama, was also one of the deadliest armed robbers to have terrorised Nigeria. In the early 2000s, the 22-year-old Derico Nwamama was infamous in the Eastern parts of the country; taking after the likes of Anini and Oyenusi.

Derico graduated from being a thug and pickpocket to a dreaded criminal kingpin. The mention of his name sent panic into the minds of traders and residents of Onitsha, the commercial capital of Anambra State, and other parts of the East.

With the police and other security forces unable to track him, Bakassi Boys, the militant wing of the Anambra Vigilante Services (AVS), was set up to fight crime in the South East. Derico was arrested on July 3, 2001, on his way to Onitsha from Agbor in Delta State while he was on an operation.

Mighty Joe

Mighty Joe whose real name is Isiaka Busari was the second in command to Oyenusi. Shortly after Oyenusi was executed, he became the gang leader. Mighty Joe had in his camp ex-soldiers who were demobilized. Very adept at handling guns and other deadly weapons, the gang ran riot on the nation, particularly the South West, robbing and killing without let. 

Abubakar Shekau

Abu Muhammad Abubakar bin Muhammad al-Shakawi popularly known as Shekau was the leader of Jama’atu Ahlis-Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad also known as Boko Haram who held North East, especially Borno State, to ransom for years.

He served as deputy leader to the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, until 2009 when the latter was executed. On more than one occasion, the Nigerian government claimed the military killed Shekau only for him to reappear in viral videos, making more threats and boasting of his criminal prowess.

For instance, Nigerian authorities believed that Shekau was killed in 2009 during clashes between security forces and Boko Haram until July 2010, when Shekau appeared in a video claiming leadership of the group.

His group raided communities, took over towns and abducted locals, including children. The 2014 abduction of Chibok schoolgirls remains one of the cruellest attacks by Boko Haram.

On May 21, 2021, an investigation by The Wall Street Journal, backed by recent reports by Nigerian officials, stated that Shekau killed himself by detonating a suicide vest following his running battle with the leadership of a splinter terrorist group loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levent (ISIS). Shekau’s rival Abu Musab al-Barnawi, also confirmed that he killed himself. 


Terwase Akwaza well known as Gana was a most wanted criminal and head of a militia group in Benue State. He terrorised Katsina Ala, Ukum and Logo local government areas for more than a decade but his criminal activities peaked between 2015 and 2020. His gang invaded communities and kidnapped residents at will, collecting millions of naira in ransom.

Gana was also accused of massacres, assassinations, robberies, cattle rustling, terrorism and murders. He levied farmers, traders, and prominent people. Resisting to pay brought death. A bounty of N50 million was placed on him after several failed attempts to track him down. He was allegedly murdered by the Nigerian Army after he turned himself in for amnesty on September 8, 2020. 


Abiodun Egunjobi alias Godogodo was the new version of Anini. A notorious armed robber and ex-convict, Godogodo constituted a major security threat in Lagos and other southwestern states for many years.

Growing up in a slum to become a robbery kingpin, Godogodo was a nightmare for the police for about 14 years until his arrest on August 1, 2013, by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Lagos State Police Command led by the now suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari. Kyari was a Superintendent of the Police at the time. His arrest was well celebrated by the command. 


Recent on the list of top criminals to have terrorised Nigeria is Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans. Popularly referred to as “the billionaire kidnapper” because of huge ransoms he collected from relatives of his victims and his opulent lifestyle, Evans, a smart and crafty kidnapper who evaded arrest for four years, was on a most wanted list in three states – Lagos, Edo and Anambra states. He also worked with a soldier who acted as his informant.

In some of the kidnapping operations he led, he collected up to N1m dollars in ransom. He was arrested in 2017 in a joint operation by the Lagos State Police Command and the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team led by suspended DCP Kyari who was the head of the unit at the time.

Evans was charged with murders, armed robbery, kidnapping, unlawful possession of firearms, unlawful possession of ammunition, conspiracy, among others. He was specifically charged with abduction of a businessman, Uche Okoroafor and demand of $2m ransom.

On February 25, 2022, the Lagos State high court found Evans and two others guilty of kidnapping and conspiracy. In the ruling, the trial judge said Evans “showed no remorse in the dock and tried to lie his way out of the crimes despite the video evidence.” He was thereafter sentenced to life imprisonment. 


Hamisu Bala better known as Wadume is a kidnap kingpin almost in the class of Evans. He was based in Taraba State but operated across the northern part of the country.

He was arrested in August 2019 by the IRT and preliminary investigation revealed that he supplied arms and ammunition to terrorists.

While he was being taken to Abuja for further investigation, police vehicle conveying him came under attack at a checkpoint manned by soldiers after passing the first military checkpoint.

The soldiers at the second checkpoint said they were alerted that the occupants of the vehicle were kidnappers who had just kidnapped Wadume in his house and were taking him away to a hideout.

Soldiers opened fire on the vehicle and three police officers and two civilians were killed while five others were injured. Wadume was freed by the soldiers but was later rearrested.

He was arraigned on June 8, 2020 along with six others on a 13 count-charge bordering on terrorism.

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