Nigeria has many fascinating and attractive people, but there also lurks a doomed, depressing side of the country.
Some of the most notorious thieves, robbers, and lawbreakers on the continent have called Nigeria home.
Unfortunately, violence and criminal activities have stained the history of Nigeria and will very certainly continue to do so.
Because we can distinguish between right and wrong, humans are regarded as the most intelligent creatures in the universe.
No man in the world is born a criminal, as the proverb says. Nonetheless, the world is full of them, some worse than the others and some being absolutely worst.
In this article, we have assembled a list of 10 of Nigeria’s most dangerous and violent villains since 1960.
Ishola Oyenusi, often referred to as “Doctor” Oyenusi or “Doctor Rob and Kill,” was an infamous robbery kingpin who terrorized the western part of Nigeria.
In the 1970s, he was originally a menace to residents of Lagos, and he then expanded his armed robbery operations to other western regions of the nation. The ruthless armed robber carried out carjackings, bank robberies, and heists.
It was wildly belived that Oyenusi acquired some supernatural power that made it difficult for him to be captured. He was even rumoured to have bragged in the height of his criminal exploits that “bullets have no power over him.”
In March 1971, he and his gang conducted their last robbery at the WAHUM factory in Ikeja, where they stole £28,000 and killed a police officer in the process.
He was eventually captured on March 27th, 1971.
Oyenusi, together with six other members of his gang, was executed on 8 September 1971. They were killed by a combined police and armed forces firing squad at the famous Bar Beach. The event was witnessed by about 30,000 Nigerians.
Mighty Joe whose real name is Isiaka Busari was a street gang member who later became a political thug and then an armed robber. He was the second in command to Ishola Oyenusi.
Shortly after Oyenusi was executed, he became the gang leader.
Mighty Joe recruited ex-soldiers into his gang to aid him carry out his robbery operations.
He was quite skilled at handling guns and other deadly weapons. He and his crew carried out unchecked robberies and murders throughout the country, especially in the South West.
Mighty Joe was arrested on 1973 while trying to snatch ₦10 from a bar attendant called Michael Osayunana.
After his trials, on 6 June 1973, a convoy transported him from Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison to Lagos Bar Beach, where he was executed by a firing squad.
Lawrence Anini A.K.A. “Ovbigbo” or “The Law” remains Nigeria’s most notorious armed robber that terrorized the country.
He was a motor-park tout and driver who later formed an armed robbery gang.
Anini, together with his assistant, Monday Osunbor, had a field day in the mid-80s carrying out deadly attacks in the old Bendel State, now Edo and Delta states.
He murdered many police officers during his homicidal rampage.
However, the height of Anini’s terror exploits occurred on October 1, 1986, Nigeria’s Independence Day. This was when the gang in Benin attacked Casmir Akagbosu, the state’s commissioner of police. The vehicles in his convoy were pelted with gunshots. The police boss survived the attacks with injuries.
A worried General Ibrahim Babangida, the military president, ordered an extensive manhunt for Anini and his gang after growing concerned about their apparent elusiveness.
On December 3, 1986, Anini was eventually caught at a house in Benin City in the company of six women. During the arrest, in an attempt to escape, he was shot in the leg. The operation was led by Kayode Uanreroro, a retired Superintendent of Police.
Anini was confined to a wheelchair throughout his trial following the amputation of one of his legs.
Justice James Omo-Agege of the Benin High Court convicted Anini of most of the charges and was sentenced to death..
Lawrence Anini was executed by a firing squad on March 29, 1987.
Shina Rambo, whose real name is Mathew Oluwanifemi, was another notorious criminal in Nigeria’s history.
The fearsome armed robber was the brains behind many attacks in the South West where he robbed and killed with impunity.
The Abeokuta, Ogun State-born robber, who grew up in Benin Republic, was the brains behind many attacks in the South West where he robbed and killed with impunity.
His father was a corrupt soldier who used his military influence to rob innocent citizen and brought huge amount of money home. His father also taught him how to dismantle and assemble all sorts of weapons and how to service guns at the tender age of seven.
Shina Rambo was heavily into the fetish and human sacrifice. As part of one his rituals to fortify himself, he slept with his mother.
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He was dreaded by the Police as he would go to police stations in broad daylight and kill every policeman there, drive to check points and open fire on every policeman on duty.
It was said that he once robbed 40 exotic cars in one day and drove all of them in a convoy, from Lagos to Cotonou, unstopped. He was powerful; he was wealthy, and impenetrable.
Shina Rambo had a wife and three children, but he lost all of them in one day during a bloody police raid at his home whilst he was away on an operation.
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. According to the police, 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.
This report was refuted by Rambo. According to him, he surrendered himself to the police.
Rambo was convicted and was released from prison after serving 11 years at Agodi Prison, Ibadan.
While in prison, he became a born-again Christian. He later became a pastor after he was released from prison.
Okwudili Ndiwe, alias Derico Nwamama, was also one of the deadliest armed robbers to have terrorized Nigeria.
His reign of terror started in the 2000 when he terrorized the Eastern parts of the country, especially Anambra State.
Derico started as a pickpocket and street urchin who later transformed into an armed robber during the tenure of Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju at the age of 22.
He started by robbing market women and banks. He was reported to have killed 25 policemen and at least 100 civilians during his terror regime.
The mention of his name sent panic into the hearts of traders and residents of Onitsha, the commercial capital of Anambra State, and other parts of the East.
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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.
On 3 July 2001, the Bakassi Boys got an intel that Nwamama was coming to Onitsha from Agbor. They laid an ambush, intercepting him at Nkpor.
Six days later, on 9 July 2001, the Bakassi Boys paraded Nwamama at the Ochanja market before beheading him with a machete.
Abiodun Egunjobi alias Godogodo was a notorious armed robber and ex-convict.
The one-eyed Godogodo was a scrap dealer in Gatankowa, Abule-Egba in Lagos, Lagos state. He was arrested by the police for causing civil unrest. Due to lack of bail, he spent six years in prison.
After he was released from prison, he formed his gang of robbers. The gang specialized in robbing banks and bureaux de change.
Godogodo constituted a major security threat in Lagos and other southwestern states for about 14 years until his arrest.
His most significant robbery is the Black Sunday robbery of 9 September 2012, which took the life of two police officers and seven civilians – bureau de exchange operators.
He was eventually arrested on August 1, 2013, in his house in Ibadan by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Lagos State Police Command. The SARS team was led by the now suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari.
Terwase Akwaza, better 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, while demanding millions of naira in ransom.
Gana engaged in massacres, assassinations, robberies, cattle rustling, terrorism and murders. He levied farmers, traders, and prominent people. To refuse to pay resulted in death.
Locals ascribed magical powers of disappearing and appearing to him and trembled at the mention of his name.
Hated for his crimes, he positioned himself to be seen by the Tiv people as their defender against external aggression. He was loved by the people of his village, Gbeji, for providing them with basic amenities.
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.
Abu Muhammad Abubakar bin Muhammad al-Shakawi popularly known as Shekau was the leader of Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist group.
He served as deputy leader to the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, until Yusuf’s execution in 2009.
Boko Haram held North East, especially Borno State, to ransom for years.
In June 2012, the United States government designated Shekau as a terrorist and effectively froze his assets in the United States.
Since June 2013, the US Government placed a standing reward of US$7 million for information leading to Shekau’s capture. In addition, the Nigerian army offered a ₦50 million reward (approximately US$300,000 at the time) for Shekau.
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.
His group raided communities, took over towns and abducted locals, including children. The 2014 abduction of Chibok school girls remains one of the cruelest attacks by Boko Haram.
On May 21, 2021, an investigation by The Wall Street Journal, backed by 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.
Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans, ranks as one of the country’s most notorious criminals ever.
Evans was also referred to as “the billionaire kidnapper” because of huge ransoms he collected from relatives of his victims and his opulent lifestyle.
In some of the kidnapping operations he led, he collected up to $1m dollars in ransom.
Evans was a smart and crafty kidnapper who evaded arrest for four years. He was on the Most-Wanted list in three states – Lagos, Edo and Anambra states. He also worked with a soldier who acted as his informant.
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, arrested Evans in 2017 in a joint operation.
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 the 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 was a kidnap kingpin based in Taraba State but operated across the northern part of the country. He was a political thug before venturing into the business of kidnapping.
Wadume also supplied arms and ammunition to terrorists in the Northeast Nigeria and cattle rustlers across Northern region of Nigeria.
He was arrested in August 2019 and while he was being taken to Abuja for further investigation, the police vehicle conveying him came under attack at a checkpoint manned by soldiers.
The Soldiers opened fire on the vehicle and three police officers and two civilians were killed while five others were injured. The soldiers freed Wadume.
According to the Soldiers, they (soldiers) 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.
On 19 August 2019, Wadume was re-arrested by Police in a hideout in Kano State.
On 26 August 2019, four of Wadume’s victims identified him as the leader of the kidnap gang that seized them for ransom and said they would testify against him during court trial
He was arraigned on June 8, 2020 along with six others on a 13 count-charge bordering on terrorism.