Following the fallout with the police in 1986, Lawrence Anini launched a campaign that would see him go down as Nigeria’s most dangerous outlaw.
Campaign Against the Police
During the summer of 1986, Anini and company hit a bank in Sabongida-Ora. In this encounter, a policeman and others were killed. This put law enforcement on alert and two more officers were killed attempting to stop Anini in September. In addition to these shootings, Lawrence Anini’s gang carried out a number of robberies, forcing the police to address the looming state of emergency.
There were also several other robberies that resulted in the deaths of civilians. Later in September, Anini would personally shoot a gas station attendant and throw the stolen money out for civilians to take.
On Independence Day—October 1—the Anini gang struck in an aggressive fashion. First, another officer was shot and killed. Then Casmir Igbokwe, the police commissioner of Edo State was almost killed in an ambush. His legend grew bigger and bigger including one story by locals of Benin City in Edo and Agbor in Delta that he drove backwards to Benin City in a bid to escape the police.
Towards the end of October, the gang would kill others and strike in Agbor once again. His bank robberies often involved him leaving cash for the working people such as his strike in December outside of Benin City.
The End of Lawrence Anini
General Ibrahim Babangida called for a state of emergency and targeted a manhunt in Bendel State. It was here that Anini’s gang was believed to be based. It would take some time before Lawrence Anini was caught with his guard down. A force led by superintendent Kayode Uanreroro brought him in on December 3 in Benin City.
Locals provided information and he was found relaxing with several women. Initially, the police asked where Anini was, possibly not recognizing “The Law”–as he was called. Anini told them he was hiding in another room and attempted to escape only to be shot in the foot by Uanreroro.
Afterward, the police shot him in the leg several more times. When he was taken in, his leg had to be amputated a day after his lieutenant Monday Osunbor was arrested. Once Anini fell, the police were able to easily bring in the rest of the gang.
In interviews, they all detailed police collaboration including a higher up named Iyamu who initiated the agreement where police. His crew got a share of the loot and were kept out of the bandit’s gun sights while the gang got information about police actions and numbers. It was also revealed how Iyamu would launder the money by purchasing properties throughout Benin City.
Following a very brief trial where the Anini gang, Iyamu, and five conspiring police officers were all put to death by a firing squad on March 29, 1987.