Laying Bare Profiling Nigeria's Notorious Armed Robbers: ('Doctor' Ishola Oyenusi)

It is another Friday and we bring you yet another notorious criminal in the annals of Nigerian history.

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The deadly Ishola Oyenusi smiling even at the face of death play

The deadly Ishola Oyenusi smiling even at the face of death

(Africa Research Bulletin)
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In the history of crime in Nigeria, Ishola Oyenusi, also known as 'The Doctor', a cold blooded armed robber who held sway in the early 70s, stands on a very special threshold that none can ever dream of attaining.

Before he was executed on Wednesday, September 8, 1971, at the famous Bar Beach show in front of 30,000 watching Nigerians, no one believed that 'The Doctor' would be captured, as he was famed for 'disappearing' or his body capable of being pierced by bullets.

In fact, he must have had so much faith in his charms that he smiled all the way to the stake and even as soldiers aimed their rifles at him and his co criminals, Oyenusi still radiated an aura of invincibility.

The phenomenal armed robber rose from the ashes of the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War that spanned three years, from 1967-1970.

Oyenusi was a charismatic, cocksure gangster whose lordly disdain for the law cast the terrifying portent of social breakdown, and had come to be celebrated as the quintessential bandit of his time.

Photo Credit: Africa Research Bulletin

During his reign of terror, Doctor Oyenusi carved a name for himself as the most brutal terror the country had ever known. He lived up to another of his nickname of 'Dr. Rob and Kill', because he was known to kill with impunity and his myth was legendary. He unleashed boundless terror on many Nigerians and would kill even for a stick of cigarrete.

Oyenusi was no doubt, the uncrowned emperor of Nigerian robbers and he was described as the ‘first celebrated armed robber in Nigeria’, regarded by some as the pioneer of conventional armed robbery in Nigeria.

When Oyenusi reigned at the height of his regal confidence, he declared: ‘The bullet has no power over me.‘

Read: "Laying Bare: Profiling Nigeria's Notorious Armed Robbers: (Lawrence Anini)"

In The Beginning

Legend has it that Ishola Oyenusi got into active robbery back in 1959, but he committed his first major robbery when he snatched a car along Herbert Macaulay Road in Yaba, Lagos, and killing its owner in the process, just because his girlfriend was broke and needed money to buy her make-up.

He eventually sold the car for £400 (Nigeria's currency then), and handed 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 pains to his victims.

Oyenusi’s arrogance was also legendary. In 1970, he was arrested and handcuffed by a police officer. As the policeman was ordering him around, Oyenusi blasted him and thundered: ‘People like you don’t talk to me like that when I am armed. I gun them down.’

Ishola Oyenusi and his gang executed

Photo Credit: Africa Research Bulletin

The End

After organising and leading so many deadly armed robbery attacks in Lagos and other cities in the South West, Doctor Oyenusi was arrested by the police in his house in Ibadan by a police officer who recognised him.

The last robbery that did him in was when he and his gang attacked the WAHUM factory in Ikeja in March, 1971, where they stole the princely sum of £28,000, which was unprecedented in those days. A police officer was also killed in the process.

His Execution

Doctor Ishola Oyenusi's execution was celebrated by relieved Nigerians who trooped out en-masse to the Bar Beach in Lagos to witness the end of a man who had held the country to ransom.

As the crowd thronged the Beach, jeering and booing Oyenusi and his band of six convicted robbers, the man of the moment kept smiling and waving at them but shortly before his body was riddled with hot-leaded bullets from stern-faced soldiers of the Nigerian Army, he finally screamed: ‘I am dying for the offense I have committed.‘

For a man who said bullets had no power to penetrate his skin, he slumped in seconds, surrendering to the high-velocity missiles directed at his mortal vessel.

At last, the soldiers set to send Ishola Oyenusi to the great beyond

Photo Credit: Africa Research Bulletin

According to one of his defence lawyers who visited him while in jail, Oyenusi was imprisoned for the first time when he was 21. He then escaped and was imprisoned again. He escaped AGAIN and was imprisoned AGAIN. He escaped about eight times and then decided to become a law unto himself and that gave him the cloak of invincibility for some time.

Additional source: Africa Research Bulletin

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