The reign of Lawrence Anini was so bloody that he was discussed at the State Security Council meeting.
He held the old Bendel State captive in the 1980s. Bendel is now known as Edo State and Delta State. His main area of operation was Benin City. He started work as a lorry driver after his master fired him and slowly transformed into a leader of the local motor parks, controlling and commanding touts.
Following the sudden overthrow of the politicians by the early 1980s and banning of politics in 1984 by the Buhari regime, the highly skilled driver (now of criminal gangs and godfathers) discovered that armed robbery was far more lucrative and decided to form his own deadly gang which included Monday Osunbor, Friday Osege, Henry Ekponwan , Eweka and Alhaji zed zed or Zegezege who was never captured.
They started out as car hijackers, bus robbers and bank thieves. He sealed a pact with corrupt police officers and ruled with reckless abandon.
Anini was a specialist in pilfering with the gun. Gradually, he extended his criminal acts to other towns and cities far north and east of Benin.
In early 1986, two members of his gang were tried and prosecuted against an earlier under-the-table agreement with the police to destroy evidence against the gang members. The incident, and Anini’s view of police betrayal is believed to have spurred retaliatory actions by Anini. In August 1986, a fatal bank robbery linked to Anini was reported in which a police officer and others were killed.
That same month, two officers on duty were shot at a barricade while trying to stop Anini’s car. During a span of three months, he was known to have killed nine police officers.
In an operation in August of 1986, the Anini team struck at First Bank, Sabongida-Ora in August of 1986, the Anini team struck at First Bank, Sabongida-Ora, where they carted away N2,000 but although the amount stolen was seen as chicken feed, they left the scene with a trial of blood. Many persons were killed.
On September 6, the same year, the Anini gang snatched a Peugeot 504 car from Albert Oteo, the driver of an Assistant Inspector General of Police, Christopher Omeben. In snatching the car, they killed the driver and went to hide his corpse somewhere.
Three months later,the skeleton of the driver was spotted 16 kilometers away from Benin-Agbor highway. A day after this attack, Anini, operating in a Passat car believed to have been stolen, also effected the snatching of another Peugeot 504 car near the former FEDECO office in Benin. Two days later, the Anini men killed two policemen in Orhiowon Local Government Area of the state. Still in that month, three different robbery attacks all pointing to Anini’s involvement took place.
A a day after the operation, Anini visited a village near Benin and threw wads of naira notes on the ground for free pick by market men and women.
Between August and December 1986, he led a four-month reign of terror. He also reportedly wrote numerous letters to media houses using the political tones of Robin Hood-like words, to describe his criminal acts.
The Anini terror finally came to an end thanks to the courage of Superintendent of Police, Kayode Uanreroro. On December 3, 1986, Uanreroro caught Anini at NO. 26, Oyemwosa Street, opposite Iguodala Primary School, Benin City, in company of six women.
Acting on a tip off from the locals, the policeman went straight to the house where Anini was hiding and apprehended him with very little resistance. Uanreroro led a crack 10-man team to the house, knocked on the door. “Where is Anini?” the policeman inquired.
Dazed as he was caught off guard and having no escape route, Anini all the same tried to be smart. “Oh, Anini is under the bed in the other room” he said as he tried to walk past Uanreroro and his team.
In the process, he shoved and head-butted the police officer but it was an exercise in futility. Uanreroro promptly reached for his gun, stepped hard on Anini’s right toes and shot at his left ankle. Anini surged forward but the policemen took hold of him and put him in a sitting position.
They pumped more bullets into his shot leg and almost severed the ankle from his leg. Already anguished by excruciating pain, the policemen asked him, : “Are you Anini?”, And he replied: “My brother, I won’t deceive you; I won’t tell you lie, I am Anini”.
While in the police net, Anini who had very poor command of English and could only communicate in Pidgin English , made a lot of revelations. He disclosed that Osunbor, who had been arrested earlier was his deputy, saying that Osunbor actually shot and wounded the former police boss of the state, Akagbosu.
He also revealed that some policemen assisted them in the criminal operations in Bendel State and the entire country.
Anini revealed that George Iyamu, who was the most senior police officer shielding the robbers would reveal police secrets to them and then, give them logistic support such as arms to carry out robbery operations.
Because of the numerous gunshots, Anini had one of his legs amputated in a military hospital.
When his hideout was searched, police recovered assorted charms, including the one he usually wore around his neck during operations. All charms were disposed after his arrest.
Anini was confined in a wheelchair throughout his trial. He was sentenced to death by Justice James Omo-Agege and executed on March 29, 1987.