The April robbery in Offa comes to mind as one of the most devastating daytime heist but there are contenders.
On Thursday, April 5, 2018, at least 30 armed robbers killed many including officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) who engaged them in a gun shootout.
The incident brought to mind past incidents where the Nigerian public witnessed a full scale daytime onslaught.
While the country deals with the aftermath of fresh modern warfare launched in a civil environment, ponder on popular examples of criminal minds who have invited fear in the hearts of Nigerians primarily concerned about their safety.
Michael Adikwu is described as one with a bitterness against the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). He fits the description of a Marvel villain who has a vendetta against a former employer.
Dismissed for aiding the freedom of crime suspects, Adikwu reportedly escaped from prison while serving time. Reports gathered that he killed a total of 22 people during the Offa heist.
Ibikunle Ogunleye, his partner during the robbery expressed that he shot at innocent people with much interest as if in vengeance.
"The two people I killed was out of fear because I was being disturbed when the whole thing was going on. The dismissed police officer, Michael (Adikwu), was shouting that day that the Nigerian police dismissed him, that they collect job from his hand, that he'll do them shege. That was the language he used," Ogunleye who implicated Senate President Bukola Saraki in a confession he gave to the police.
A fearless Justice Ogbenna, also known as JJ led a team of robbers to a Zenith Bank branch located on Wetheral Road, Owerri in Imo State but even him can be subdued by loss.
The suspect was apprehended while paying last respect to his late father.
Before this, he had visited the financial institution in a bid to rob a customer who planned to deposit an undisclosed amount of money. The goal was achieved with the perfection and uncertainty often depicted in Nollywood movies.
According to Punch News, the victim was shot dead after Ogbenna's group took the cash. A CCTV footage which captured the event showed a live robbery which commenced when the gang drove into the premises of the financial institution.
For those who grew in the 80s, the name Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini can never be forgotten as one of Nigeria's most notorious armed robbers who dominated the old Bendel State region.
Anini also known as The Law was prominent in the 80s, a status that make a big headache at General Ibrahim Babangida's State Security Council meetings.
Born in 1960 in a village about 20 miles from Benin City, Edo State, Anini migrated to Benin at an early age, learned to drive and became a skilled taxi driver. It seemed a short-lived period of innocence as he quickly became a feared gang leader who inspires anxiety.
His crew included Monday Osunbor, later known to be a "dreaded killer without mercy", Friday Ofege, Henry Ekponwan, Phillip Iwebelue, Prince and Kingsley Eweka.
Starting out as car snatchers, bus robbers and bank thieves predominantly in Benin, Anini, and his gang extended his criminal acts to other towns and cities in different parts of Nigeria.
Anini was able to penetrate the police echelon and had some top officers as his gun suppliers and informants. The biggest of them being Inspector George Iyamu who benefited immensely from their association.
In an operation in August of 1986, the Anini team struck at First Bank located in Sabongida-Ora located in Owan West Local Goverment area of Edo State.
The gang carted away N2,000. An amount considered not so profitable but a scene littered with blood following the deaths of persons killed made a much bigger heist for the Anini band.
On September 6, the same year, the group snatched a Peugeot 504 car from Albert Otoe who drives an Assistant Inspector General of Police, Christopher Omeben. The thieves killed the driver and hid his corpse.
Three months later Otoe's skeleton was spotted 16 kilometers away from Benin, precisely the Benin-Agbor highway.
A day after this attack, Anini, operating in a Passat car believed to have been stolen, also snatched another Peugeot 504 car near the former FEDECO office, in Benin.
Two days after, the Anini men killed two policemen in Orhiowon Local Government Area of the state. Three different robbery attacks linked to Anini took place in the month - a factor that emphasizes the notoriety of the dreaded criminal.
A day after the operation, The Law turned became a generous man as he freely gave loads of cash to market women in Benin.
Anini also spearheaded a 4-month reign of terror between August and December 1986. He reportedly wrote numerous letters to media houses using a menacing tone to describe his criminal acts.
The Military Head of State at the time, General Babangida got worried over the his activities prompting an order to Inspector General of Police, Etim Inyang who was asked to get him dead or alive.
Such was his prowess and myth.
Anini was finally arrested in a major operation led by Superintendent of Police Kayode Uanreroro, who brought his reign of terror to an end.
He was nabbed on December 3, 1986, at No. 26, Oyemwosa Street, opposite Iguodala Primary School, Benin City. He was arrested in company of six women after a tip-off by local residents.
Anini who was confined to a wheelchair throughout his trial following the amputation of one of his legs was sentenced to death by Justice James Omo-Agege of the Benin High Court.
The criminal was executed on March 29, 1987.
Naturally, 'Doctor' Ishola Oyenusi should have taken the top spot on this list going by the fact that he was the first known armed robber in the country.
But Anini's exploits in the underworld took the shine off Oyenusi.
In the history of crime in Nigeria, Oyenusi, was 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.
He took the nation by storm shortly after the Civil War ended and 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 not penetrable 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.
During his reign of terror, 'Doctor' Oyenusi carved a name for himself as the most brutal terror the country had ever known and 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 cigarette. 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.‘
Legend has it that 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.’
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.
'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.‘
Abiodun Egunjobi, alias Godogodo, was the modern day version of Lawrence Anini. The one-eyed monster was one of the deadliest armed robbers Nigeria ever had.
The 36-years-old Godogodo rose from being a slum boy to the leader of a gang that defied all reasons, struck with precision, killed without mercy and terrorized Lagos and the south-west with reckless abandon.
Before his arrest on August 1, 2013, Godogodo gave the Lagos State Police Command so much headache for 14 years, so much so that on the day he was arrested, the command erupted in joy: at least its men would be safe from his guns.
Originally from Ogun State, Egunjobi was on the wanted list of the police for over 10 years and the way he managed to evade the police is still legendary.
In fact, he was at a time, on the top of the Most Wanted list of the Command with several Police Commissioners assigning the toughest of cops on his trail.
At that time, any robbery in Lagos had the imprint of Godogodo, with him leading or one of his boys being responsible. He was famed for leading many robbery operations, especially on banks, with the infamous reputation of killing over 100 policemen in Lagos State.
Godogodo allegedly went for operations with a bag containing 10 fully loaded AK 47 rifles with 30 rounds of ammunition each and as such, he was fully prepared in terms of weapons on his back.
It was gathered that Godogodo used to tell his gang members that he would never be arrested alive and had vowed to go down with as many policemen as possible on the day he is unable to escape arrest.
This vow was later found to be real, as anti-robbery detectives recovered several loaded AK47s, each with 60 rounds of live ammunition, from different parts of his residence, including the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, sitting room on the day of his arrest.
He was so good at disguising his criminal activities that even his wife and family members never knew what he was into. He had six houses in different locations including Lagos, Ogun and Ondo States, and never stayed in a particular location for more than a month.
Godogodo began his voyage into the deadly world of crime after spending seven years in prison for what he considered a minor offence.
As a scrap dealer in the slum of Gatankowa, Abule-Egba, he was involved in a fight and the police arrested him. With no one to bail him out, Godogodo was sent to jail and in his mind, he believed his going to prison was an injustice and blamed the police for it.
While in prison, he became acquainted with more deadly armed robbers and formed an alliance with them and took the time to understudy them. When he finally left prison, he decided that he was going to deal with the police for sending him to prison for seven years.
During an interrogation, Godogodo told the police that he took only raw cash during his operations and would only attack a place he knew there would be enough cash to cart away. He also said he doesn’t have any bank account as he invested all his money in the property immediately after each operation.
Many would not forget Sunday, September 9, 2012, when Abbey Godogodo and his gang terrorized Lagos, leaving indelible marks in the minds of many families after he led a coordinated attack in the city where many innocent people including policemen lost their lives.
He revealed how he coordinated the bloody operation and gave chilling details of how he led members of his gang to cart away millions of Dollars from bureau de change operators in Agege and Gbagada areas of Lagos.
The Lagos State Police Command headed by Commissioner, Umar Manko, mandated the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), led by Superintendent of Police, Abba Kyari, to bring an end to the reign of Abbey Godogodo and that began intensive investigations which led to the capitulation of his empire.
Manko was given direct orders by the then Inspector General of Police to make sure the Godogodo phenomenon was quashed at all cost.
After the gang attacked the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, where two police inspectors and more than five people were killed and over N100 million stolen, the police decided to focus on profiling the suspect, because, up to that point, no one knew anything about him or what he looked like. The police also began looking at the possibility of preempting his subsequent operations.
Okwudili Ndiwe, alias Derico Nwamama, was also one of the deadliest armed robbers to have come out of the Nigeria.
In the early 2000s, the 22-year-old Derico Nwamama was probably the King of the Underworld in the Eastern parts of the country; a clear replication of the likes of Lawrence Anini and Ishola Oyenusi.
Derico had risen from a street urchin and pick pocket to a dreaded crime king and the mere mention of his name sent shivers down the spines of traders and residents of Onitsha, the commercial capital of Anambra State, and other parts of the east.
The traders could not display their wares with peace while many slept with one eye open. Derico sacked commercial banks in Onitsha, carting away millions of Naira. Travelers who had to pass through the state held their breaths, expecting the hoodlum to strike at any time.
The then Governor of the state, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, became an old man over night with worries on how to handle the menace of Derico.
He was described as the personification of terror. From Nnewi to Nkpor, from the villages in Umuleri to towns in Ihiala, the old and young were terrified at the mere whisper of Derico Nwamama.
At that time, he was said to be invisible and could not be arrested. The dreaded Bakassi Boys went on a manhunt for the man known to kill without batting an eyelid.
According to legend, Derico Nwamama had killed over 100 people including 25 police officers whose lives he mercilessly wasted. He was a master of countless bus robberies and will not blink twice before pumping his hot lead bullets into the beating hearts of hapless victims.
And after his successful raids, he would boast and declare himself invincible. Derico seemed to have placed a lot of faith and confidence in the charms prepared for him by the traditional witch-doctors.
With the police and other security forces unable to bring Derico Nwamama and his terror regime to a close, the onus fell on the Bakassi Boys, the militant wing of the Anambra Vigilante Services (AVS), a local vigilante group set up to curb crime and criminality in the South East.
The group were then at the forefront of the hunt and capture of Derico Nwamama and on Tuesday, July 3, 2001, the hitherto invisible criminal was nabbed on his way to Onitsha from Agbor, ostensibly on one of his crime spree.
On July 9, 2001, six days after Derico was captured at the Niger Bridge, the Bakassi Boys did to him what many had earlier predicted. Chanting war songs, they drove in their convoy around the town and ended at the Ochanja Market Junction along the popular Upper Iweka Road in Onitsha.
Derico was dragged out from the bus, looking gaunt and severely beaten, a trademark of the vigilante group. His body bore cuts and gashes, a testament to what he must have gone through in their hands. He must also have known that the day of reckoning has come.
He was in obvious pains but no one seemed to care. Still chanting war songs and egged on by the enchanted crowd, one of the commanders of the Bakassi Boys named Okpompi, addressed the crowd, telling them they were in the state not for politics but to fight crime.
He handed over the microphone to the now trembling Derico who, like a cornered fox, began begging for his life to be spared. He made feeble attempts at declaring his innocence:
“My name is Oddy, alias Derico, alias Nwa Mama. I appeal to you the people of Anambra State, please don’t kill me, I don’t like evil. It was when I killed Chiejina that people thought I am a strong guy, you know.
I trust Bakassi Boys. They are strong. Please, mercy for me. Nobody can identify me as having robbed him. People just believe that I am a strong guy.”
What was to follow remains one of the most macabre displays of public executions in Nigeria. With the speed of a guillotine, a cutlass handled in the strong arm of one of the Bakassi Boys flew and came down with an unforgiving thud, landing on Derico’s slim neck. In a flash, Derico was beheaded.
His severed head rolled on the floor before the crowd while his convulsing body collapsed on the ground, with bright-red blood gushing from his carotid arteries.
Before he became a man of God and the Director-General of Prison Rehabilitation Mission International (PREMI), and the Presiding Bishop of Christ Vessel of Grace Church, Bishop Kayode Williams was one of Nigeria's most notorious armed robbers.
He was a member of the Ishola Oyenusi gang who stood out when his boss was captured. He was known to be a dreaded robber who wasted no time in killing his victims. During a confession years ago, Bishop Willams narrated how he pounded little babies and used them for spiritual fortification.
He was converted to Christianity while serving a 10-year jail term and since then, he has not looked back in preaching to prisoners and trying all he can to rehabilitate them.
Legend has it that Monday Osunbor was the main man behind the dreaded Lawrence Anini gang. He was known as the executioner and sharp shooter.
Though not much was known of him during the Anini trial as his leader took the shine off him, it was gathered that he was a short-tempered stammerer who did not hesitate in killing their victims.
He was executed alongside Anini in 1987.
The name Shina Rambo has refused to go away from the consciousness of Nigerians who either witnessed his crime spree or were unfortunate to live in that era.
The Abeokuta, Ogun State-born Rambo was a terror in the 90s and the brain behind many crimes in the Western parts of the country where he robbed and killed with impunity.
He was so feared even by the police that many thought he was invisible as he was thought to disappear anytime the police closed in on him.
It is believed that the policemen who killed him did not even know that it was Shina Rambo.
He was said to be on his way to Lanrewaju Motors to buy a Pathfinder SUV when he was apprehended by the police on the Ojota New Garage Long Bridge.
Rambo was not the one driving when the police stopped him and his gang, they discovered a lot of money in a cartoon in the trunk of the Datsun car.
When they started questioning him on the possession of such huge an amount, an argument ensued and he attempted to disarm one of the policemen.
It was one of the policemen at the other side of the road who shot Rambo down. It was said that it was easy to shoot him because he was not with his charms since he was not going for an operation.
However, another account has it that the person killed was not the real Shina Rambo as another ex-bandit who claimed to be the real Rambo, is now a man of God by the name Mathew Oluwanifemi.
In his confession a few years ago, pastor Oluwanifemi described himself as a hardened criminal, a terror, and killer.
He narrated how he specialized in robbing exotic cars on highways and banks and that nothing could stop him, not even security operatives as he was totally invincible.
Shortly after the notorious kingpin of armed robbery in Nigeria, Ishola Oyenusi was executed, his second in command, Isiaka Busari, better known as Mighty Joe, took over the scene and became the defacto king of the underground.
Nigeria was still coming out of the pangs of the civil war and with the death of Oyenusi, they thought the era of violent crimes had been nipped in the bud but little did they know that another hoodlum would spring up and become deadlier.
In Mighty Joe's gang were ex-soldiers who were demobilized and with their know how in the handling of guns and other deadly weapons, they held the nation, particularly the South West, to ransom, robbing and killing with reckless abandon.
Mighty Joe was even deadlier than Oyenusi and was known to operate at anytime he felt like and taking a human's life was nothing to him.
For many years, he constituted himself a big terror to the people of Lagos, the then Federal Capital, especially around Mushin where he lived and practiced his trade.
He strode the hemisphere like a colossus from 1971 when his boss was killed, till 1973 when he was nabbed after robbing a hotel bar attendant, Michael Osayunana, of the sum of ₦10.
The arrest of Mighty Joe, according to legend, was as dramatic as his reign of terror. The self-styled ‘Strongman of Idi Oro’ was caught when someone he had earlier robbed, recognized him and fingered him to the police and he was nabbed without any fight, as against his various boasts that no man born of a woman can arrest him due to his strong belief in his spiritual powers.
He was said to pay some herbalists huge amounts to prepare charms for him so that he would remain invincible.
While he was in prison awaiting his day at the Bar Beach, Mighty Joe converted to Islam and even offered prayers that the execution is reverted. That was never to be.
After he was tied to the stakes, he was asked to say his last words and he blurted:
"May God bless everybody, both my friends and enemies. Tell my wife, my mother and my in-law to keep fit."