The Gap

Top 10 criminals in Nigeria and their crimes

Top 10 criminals in Nigeria and their crimes

Nigerians are known to have made so many accomplishments in their various fields across the globe. However, there are criminals in Nigeria whose chosen careers still reverberate in the country to this day. These criminals have written their names in the halls of fame of terrorising people for their selfish desires.

Well, we’re glad to announce that they all met a well-deserved end. But it still doesn’t make up for the number of deaths, trauma and wickedness they meted on their victims during their operating days. If you’re curious to know who these criminals in Nigeria are and their crimes, continue reading below.

Top 10 criminals in Nigeria and their crimes

1. Lawrence Anini

Lawrence Anini

We can’t start this list without mentioning the oga patapata of all criminals in Nigeria, Lawrence Anini, aka The Law. Anini was a true terror in the 1980s, operating as an armed robber in Bendel State, present-day Edo and Delta states. The notorious armed robber and his gang successfully robbed 12 banks in one day and killed 18 people in 1983. In fact, the gang made it a point of duty to rob banks in broad daylight. They also threw money at market women to gain popularity.

With the help of the police force, Anini and his gang successfully held Bendel State bondage until December 3, 1986, when they were all arrested in Benin City. Anini was confined in a wheelchair throughout his trial as one of his legs was amputated. He was sentenced to death, alongside his gang and some police officers, by Justice James Omo-Agege of the Benin High Court. Anini was executed on March 29, 1987.

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2. Ishola Oyenusi

Ishola Oyenusi

Before Anini, there was a robbery ‘generalissimo’, and his name is Ishola Oyenusi, who terrorised the Western part of Nigeria in the 1970s. In fact, he is the first known notorious armed robber in Nigeria. “Doctor” Oyenusi began armed robbery in 1959 when he snatched a car at Herbert Macaulay Way, Lagos. The car owner was killed during the robbery, all because Oyenusi’s girlfriend was broke and needed money to buy make-up.

By 1971, shortly after the Nigerian civil war,  Oyenusi was a cold-blooded criminal who delighted in causing harm to his victims. He was even reported to have boasted that “bullet has no power over me.” His last robbery operation was at WAHUM factory in Ikeja, where he and his gang members stole £28,000 and killed a police officer in March 1971. He was tried and executed on September 8, 1971, by firing squad at the Lagos Bar Beach in front of over 30,000 relieved Nigerians. Oyenusi smiled to his death.

3. Sina Rambo

Sina Rambo

Sina Rambo is who you would describe as one of the lucky ones, going by the stories that have been told about his ending. Born in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Sina Rambo was a notorious armed robber in the 1990s. Like Oyenusi, he terrorised the South-West, killing people with impunity.

There are two different accounts of how he ended. One report says he was shot dead on his way to Lanrewaju Motors to buy a Pathfinder SUV. A police officer apprehended him when a huge sum of money was found in the car. Another police shot him when he tried to disarm the previous police officer. Another report says he was sent to prison, where he repented and turned into a pastor on his release. There are speculations that he’s still alive.

4. Derico Nwamama

Derico Nwamama

Okwudili Ndiwe, aka Derico Nwamama, was a notorious criminal in the South East in the early 2000s. By 22, he was the deadliest armed robber, taking after Oyenusi and Anini. Derico started his “career” as a thug and pickpocket. He rose to the rank of being a terror to traders and residents of Onitsha and other parts of the South-East.

Derico Nwamama succeeded in evading arrest by the police but was eventually apprehended by the Bakassi Boys, a group of young vigilantes in the South-East. The Bakassi Boys got intel that Nwamama was coming to Onitsha, laid an ambush, and intercepted him at Nkpor on July 3, 2001. Six days later, Derico was paraded at the Ochanja market before he was beheaded with a machete.

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5. Mighty Joe

Mighty Joe

Isiaka Busari, aka Mighty Joe, was the second in command to Oyenusi. Shortly after Oyenusi’s execution, Mighty Joe took over the gang, which was also made up of former Nigerian soldiers dismissed from service. Mighty Joe was exceptional at handling guns and other deadly weapons and terrorised the South-West with impunity.

He was eventually arrested after he was caught robbing a hotel bar attendant, Michael Osayunana, of the sum of ₦10. After he was sentenced to death, the ‘Strongman of Idi Oro’ was given a VIP ride from Kirikiri Prison to Bar Beach in a police van escorted by six lorry loads of tough-looking anti-riot policemen. He died by firing squad, just like his boss, Oyenusi.

6. Abubakar Shekau

Abubakar Shekau

Abubakar Shekau needs no introduction. Born Abu Mohammed Abubakar bin Mohammad al-Sheikawi, he was the leader of Boko Haram, formally known as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād, which held the North-East to ransom for years. Shekau served as deputy leader to the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, until 2009, when Yusuf was killed.

For years, the Nigerian Army has claimed that Shekau has been executed during combat, only for him to reappear in viral videos, making threats and boasting of his prowess. Shekau was the mastermind behind the bombing, killing and abduction of victims, including the famous Chibok schoolgirls.

On May 21, 2021, an investigation by The Wall Street Journal backed recent reports by Nigerian officials that Shekau killed himself by detonating a suicide vest following his leadership tussle with members of Boko Haram loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levent (ISIS). His rival,  Abu Musab al-Barnawi, also confirmed the suicide.

7. Gana


Now we head over to the Midwest where Benue’s most wanted criminal, Terwase Akwaza, aka Gana, operated. Gana was head of a militia group in the state and terrorised places like  Katsina-Ala, Ukum and Logo local government areas for over a decade. Between  2015 and 2020, his gang invaded communities and kidnapped residents, collecting millions of naira in ransom.

Gana was reportedly behind the massacres, assassinations, robberies, cattle rustling, terrorism and murders in the state. He also levied farmers, traders, and prominent people. A bounty of N50 million was placed on his head in several attempts to arrest him. He eventually turned himself in for amnesty on September 8, 2020, but was killed by the Nigerian Army.

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8. Godogodo


Abiodun Egunjobi, aka Godogodo, was a one-eyed version of Anini. For many years, the notorious armed robber and ex-convict constituted a major security threat in Lagos and other southwestern states.

Godogodo was a nightmare for many people for 14 years. He was eventually arrested on August 1, 2013, by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Lagos State Police Command. The operation was led by the now-suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari.

9. Evans


Chukwudidumeme Onuamadike, popularly known as Evans, is one of Nigeria’s most recent top criminals. Evans was popularly called “the billionaire kidnapper,” due to the huge ransoms he collected from relatives of his victims and his lavish lifestyle. The smart kidnapper evaded arrest for four years and was on the most wanted list in three states – Lagos, Edo and Anambra states.

Evans was eventually arrested in 2017 in a joint operation by the Lagos State Police Command and the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team led by suspended DCP Kyari. He was charged with murders, armed robberies, kidnappings, unlawful possession of firearms, unlawful possession of ammunition, conspiracy, etc. He was specifically charged with the abduction of businessman Uche Okoroafor and $2 million ransom demand. Evans was sentenced to life imprisonment on February 25, 2022, by the Lagos State High Court.

10. Wadume


While Evans was a major terror in the south, Hamisu Bala, better known as Wadume, operated in the north. The kidnap kingpin lived in Taraba State but caused havoc across the northern part of the country. Wadume was in August 2019 by the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) for allegedly supplying arms and ammunition to terrorists.

While he was taken to Abuja for further investigation, the police vehicle conveying him was attacked by some Nigerian soldiers manning a military checkpoint. The soldiers claimed they received intel from the first military checkpoint that Wadume was being kidnapped from his house. Three police officers and two civilians were killed, while five others were injured during the attack. Wadume was freed by the soldiers but later rearrested. He was arraigned on June 8, 2020, along with six others on a 13 count-charge of terrorism.

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Nonye is a Thespian, screenwriter, creative writer and an unapologetic lover of books, great movies and sports. She has over 10 years experience in content writing on entertainment, movies, sports and lifestyle. Nonye is currently a content writer at Blackdot Media and founder of
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