minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke secretly sells off National Theatre to UAE company?

That is what Politicaleconomistng.com is exclusively reporting. Find report below…

Barely one year after Nigerians stopped him from turning the National Theatre into a hotel, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke, secretly jetted off the country to the United Arab Emirates, UAE, where he traded off the nation’s cultural pride to Mulk Holding, a diversified UAE-based conglomerate with interests in retail sector and other businesses. Please continue…

The secret deal which was successfully shielded from the Nigerian media, in spite of a subsisting concessioning arrangement with the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, was signed and sealed in December , 2014 between a delegation led by Duke, the General Manager of the National Theatre, Kabiru Yar’Adua and representatives of Mulk Holding, said to be ploughing the sum of $40 million (about N7.5 billion) counterpart fund into the project.

According to GulfAfrica Review, in its December 10, 2014 edition, Sharjah’s Mulk Holdings, a diversified UAE-based business conglomerate, “has announced its entry into the retail sector in West Africa through a $40m joint venture to develop Nigeria’s National Arts Theatre in Lagos into a duty-free shopping centre in partnership with the Suzanne Group.

“The interior of the National Theatre will be redesigned and renovated into a modern duty-free and retail shopping mall. The project will convert approximately 30,000m2 of the existing space in two 15,000m2 phases,” said Kabir Yaradua, CEO of the National theatre.

The report continues: “The National Theatre has been the hub of cultural activities in Nigeria since 1976, and this will kick-start a master re-development programme for this area.”
The report quoted Ambassador of Nigeria to the UAE, His Excellency Bashir Yuguda, as saying: “The National Theatre has been the hub of cultural activities in Nigeria since its establishment in 1976, and this development will compliment and kick-start a master re-development programme designed for this area.”

The National Arts Theatre was originally built for the Festival of Arts and Culture in 1977, and later underwent a controversial privatisation after 2001 under President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Fresh plans further anticipate leasing the land around the theatre in a 30-year concession.
Minister of Tourism, HE Edem Duke, noted: “As part of the continuous drive to promote culture and tourism, the federal government is making necessary arrangements to transform the land into a modern mixed-use commercial and business hub of global standards.”

Arif Hafiz, Managing Director of Suzanne Group, praised the “milestone contract” Mulk Holdings as “one of the major global business groups in the UAE”, while Shaji Ul Mulk, chairman, Mulk Holdings, elaborating on the details of the project, noted that is expected to be completed in 2016.
“Mulk Holdings is adopting aggressive strategies to expand its core business, involving serious investment into existing businesses and diversification into sustainable industries,” Ul Mulk added.
According to a report by audit firm Ernst&Young, Africa’s retail and consumer sector received about 17% of all foreign direct investment that came into the continent in 2013.

Mulk Holdings and its joint venture partners own and manage a group of 20 companies with a sector focus on construction and fit-out manufacturing, as well as diversified business interests in trading, commodities, real estate and energy, spread across 48 countries.

Based in Dubai, the Suzanne Group caters to duty free shopping outlets in international airports and seaports, and is a registered supplier of services to the offices of the United Nations.
Though the theatre had been a victim of public sector incompetence, its final descent into the ignoble hall of shame of failed public institutions started in 2001 when the Obasanjo civilian government served notice of its intent to privatize the monument. Converting a public institution into a successful private enterprise has never captured the fancy of Nigerians. Many of such previous attempts at privatization of public institutions have failed and the case of the National Theatre was not different. Between 2001 and now, the theatre has remained a mere ball for government ping-ponging. It is yet to be sold or concessioned, worst still the federal government which is the original owner of the facility is behaving as though it is the least of its worries: unserious.

A staff of the theatre told our correspondent that the employees are more confused than anybody. ”We don’t know our fate. Today we hear they want to privatize it and build a 5-star hotel here, tomorrow we hear a different story. This is confusing and it is affecting our morale and commitment because nobody, not even our senior staff can say categorically that this is the true situation of things.
“We believe the management of the theatre is doing this deliberately to give the impression that the theatre cannot function effectively if left in the hand of government. We believe it is a cheap way to arm-twist government to sell the national pride. But some of us have travelled far and wide and we have seen equivalent institutions in other countries being managed by the public sector and they are efficient”.
Political Economist investigation showed that the theatre has become a victim of power play orchestrated by the Tourism Minister, Edem Duke, in concert with the General Manager of the Theatre, Mallam Kabiru Yar’Adua both of whom, stakeholders allege, are intent on disposing of the national monument for peanuts. The Theatre, they argue, was set up by a decree just like the National Troupe and other parastatals of the Ministry of Tourism and they see no reason why it should be sold off on the whims of a minister and a manager. They cited the case of the United States where certain monuments are still held in custody of government.
For instance, the United States government enacted a law in 1846 to support and preserve the Smithsonian Institution and its 19 museums across the country. In UK, the Royal National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company are publicly funded theatre outlets and they are still relevant till this day. The case of the National Theatre cannot be an exception, they warned.
The National Theatre has been a victim of government policy flip-flop. The BPE commenced the concession transaction of the National Theatre in 2001 following the conclusion of World Bank-financed diagnostic study and Transaction Advisory service in line with international best practices. The first concession transaction in 2001 led to the pre-qualification of the following prospective concessionaires:

  1. Jadeas Trust Consortium, and
  2. Lloyd Anderson Investment Limited.

In January 2003, the pre-qualified concessionaires conducted data room and physical due diligence. The transaction was stalled, however, owing to the inability of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to provide relevant documents such as Power of Attorney as well as building and floor plans of the National Theatre.
The BPE did another concession transaction of National Theatre in 2006. Eight Consortia responded when the Bureau advertised for Expressions of Interest. This led to the financial bid opening on May 17, 2007 where Infrastructica Consortium emerged as the Preferred Bidder with a bid price of ₦35, 560, 000,000 and Jadeas Trust Limited as the Reserved Bidder with an offer of ₦28, 902,948,593.23.
Following the approval of the results of the financial bid by the NCP, an offer letter was sent to the Preferred Bidder on May 18, 2007 and a timetable to complete the concession agreement by May 28, 2007 was drawn. Unfortunately, the Preferred Bidder, Infrastructica Consortium, failed to meet the terms of the offer, leading to the termination of the offer. The Reserved Bidder, Jadeas Trust, was thereafter invited for negotiation to pay for the enterprise.

However, the process to conclude the transaction with Jadeas Trust was stalled.
The NCP at its first meeting on January 22, 2013 approved the resumption of the concession transaction by the BPE with a view to bringing it to conclusion. The BPE has consequently invited the reserve bidder, Jadeas Trust Consortium with the offer of N28,902,948,593.23 to present a revised technical and financial proposal. The N28.9 billion bid offer, which is not yet concluded as it will form part of the renegotiation with Jedeas Trust, comprises both Entry fee and yearly lease fees to be paid over a 35-year period. This is different from the investment capital to be based on approved Post Concession Business Development Plan from which the Concessionaire is to recoup its investment and return the enterprise to the Government after 35 years in the event that the concession is not renewed.

The NCP, in line with its practice to carry along ministries whose enterprises are being privatized/concession, also approved that the BPE should invite the Honourable Minister of Tourism & Culture to participate in the NCP’s technical sub-committee that will evaluate the proposal of Jadeas Trust.

Jadeas Trust Consortium has submitted a revised Technical and Financial proposal to BPE. In accordance with NCP’s decision, the BPE has written the Ministry and the Management of National Theatre to send two nominees each to join the evaluation committee that will assess Jadeas Trust Consortium’s Technical and Financial proposal.

The BPE is awaiting the response of both the Ministry and Management of National Theatre for the evaluation of the Technical and Financial proposal to begin in earnest. The result of the evaluation team will be presented to, first the Technical Committee of NCP for consideration before the Technical Committee presents its recommendations to the NCP for approval or further directive.

At the Federal Executive Council’s meeting (FEC) held on Wednesday June 26, 2013 an Inter-ministerial Cabinet Committee was set up to consider the parallel concession transactions being carried out by the BPE and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation.
With the new development being spearheaded secretly by the minister, it is not clear what has become of the earlier concessioning arrangement and the status of Jadeas Trust.

How James Manager, Tompolo fund Ugborodo crisis- Chief Ayirimi Emami

Chief Ayirimi Emami, Akulagba of Warri Kingdom

Chief Ayirimi Emami, the Ajuwaoyiboyanmi  of Warri Kingdom A.K.A Akulagba, is the current Chairman of Itsekiri Regional Development Committee (IRDC), immediate past Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Warri South-West Local Government Area  of Delta State; showbiz promoter, philanthropist, multi dimensional businessman, Niger Delta activist and Chieftain of the ruling PDP, in this interview he granted at his 911 Spot Bar, Ugbuwangue in the heart of Warri, the commercial hub of Delta State, the ebullient Warri Chief spoke on sundry national and local issues, including the just concluded primaries of the main political parties, the Ogidigben EPZ land ownership controversy between the Itsekiri and Ijaw, the Isoko clamour for Delta State Deputy Governor’s slot of PDP and a host of other burning national and local issues.

Excerpts: 

How do you describe the just-concluded primaries of the PDP and APC?

A: Before I answer your question, let me felicitate with all Nigerians on the yuletide and wish everyone a prosperous 2015. Permit me to also sympathize with our President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on the precarious security situation in the North East geopolitical zone of the country and I want to pray that such security situation do not replicate itself in the Niger Delta, because the situation on ground, particularly controversies surrounding the land ownership of the EPZ location if not checked could snowball into an unfortunate crisis. There is an Itsekiri adage that says “Uli-one owun-aghan-kele-sengwa gba-re-ode” meaning “it is from a man’s home that he dresses fine and looks good before going out”. Now straight to your question, I must stress that some of us are party men and we believe in our party. The primaries conducted were good and for the first time we are going to have a proper contest, where people are likely to vote their choice of President.

What do you think are the chances of the PDP in the February 14, 2015 presidential  poll considering the present economic situation, power and security challenges?

We hope to win and we will try as much as possible to put our house in order. Politics in Nigeria right now is all about ethnicity, religion and regional divide which ought not to be. Ethnic bigotry is a major challenge in our polity, especially in Delta State.

How do you react to the issue of ethnic bigotry in Delta State, particularly against the backdrop of incidences that controversially truncated the senatorial ambition of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and Hon. Weyinmi Omadeli as chairman of Warri South West LGA, barely 48 hours to the PDP senatorial primaries and the October 25, 2014 Delta State Local Government polls, respectively, against the existing gentleman agreement in the area?

It is better to keep to the gentleman agreement. No ethnic group is more powerful than the other, when we respect mutual agreement, we will forge ahead as a people. To me those things that happened, some of us frowned at it from the beginning. The people in Abuja don’t know how we do our things here and some persons will go to Abuja to tell different stories and those are the kind of people that cause disaffection within the party. These are the kind of things we are praying should not cause problem for some of us. Some of us seriously believe in the administration of Chief James Onanefe Ibori which initiated rotation in the chairmanship of Warri South-West Local Government. When the local government was created, the headquarters was situated at Ogidigben, but was changed to Ogbe-Ijoh and we, the Itsekiris and Ijaws agreed to see ourselves as brothers. When it came to the issue of the state’sHouse of Assembly seat for Warri South-West, it was clearly spelt out by Chief James Ibori that he had no power over it, except a separate constituency is created to accommodate the Ijaw interest, which we all accepted. But a man that was not part of all these agreements, probably through threat to the state’s Governor came 48 hours to the last Local Government elections in the state to change the equation for ethnic/clan interest.

When it comes to political positions as it affects Warri South-West LGA, the Ijaws who already have enough political representatives from Bomadi, Burutu and Patani Local Government Areas don’t see themselves as one nation but the Itsekiri see themselves as one nation, the local government areas notwithstanding. That was how Tompolo and some of his Gbaramatu kinsmen told the government that Itsekiri cannot have the Warri Federal Constituency Seat, House of Assembly Seat and produce the Chairman of Warri South-West at the same time despite their several representatives at both the National and State levels.

Still on the gentleman agreement controversy, the Ijaws of Delta State through Senator James Manager has held the Delta South Senatorial Seat for three tenures now after Senator Stella Omu, in line with one-term agreement of the 3Is (Ijaw, Itsekiri and Isoko) did only one term of four years between 1999 and 2003.

Specifically, how do you react to the aspiration of James Manager to seek a forth term?

I know Senator James Manager was going to go back to the Senate because we had some internal problems in our community (Ugborodo).He, James Manager and Tompolo were reported to be funding the crisis in my community to foster Manager’s political interest. One of the boys on ground in Ugborodo called me on few occasions to corroborate allegations that Senator James Manager and Tompolo were funding the community’s factional leadership so that Itsekiri can no longer unite to favour James Manager’s return bid to the Senate come 2015.

I’m so disturbed and worried because if people out there think they are doing Itsekiri, it will affect the entire Niger Delta. When it became imperative that an Itsekiri man, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan would become Governor for two tenures, we thought it wise to allow Senator James Manager to continue in the Senate to balance the political equation. But now that Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan is leaving the Government House come 2015, it is only rational for Itsekiri Nation to have a go at the Senate because it is our turn as far as this political dispensation is concerned.

As a Chief in Warri Kingdom and Chieftain of the PDP, when it comes to the choice of party candidate which conflicts with your ethnic interest, where does your loyalty lies?

It can be confusing as a businessman from a minority ethnic group facing crisis but my loyalty as a Chief lies with the Olu of Warri, but as a party man, my loyalty is for the party when it comes to party decision. But I will always stand and defend my ethnic group.

As the Chief Convener of Delta United for Obuh (DUF) now that the gubernatorial primaries are over and Sir Tony Obuh dropped last minute, what is your position now as far as the Presidential race and that of Delta Governorship are concerned in the build-up to the 2015 polls?

No matter our reservations, we have since decided to work towards the second term ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan and that has not changed, because what is playing out now in the polity is the issue of ethnicity and regional interest. Some of us are looking for better times to express our reservation on some issues to Mr. President, but as a man from our region we will support his re-election bid. If an Itsekiri man were to be the President of this country, the killings recently experienced in Ugborodo community would not have happened in any Ijaw community. In the case of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi  Okowa has been close to some of us, even closer than those who claim to be working for him. Everyone that knows me, know I work with instruction and directives. It is whatever the governor directs that I will follow, but seriously speaking I think PDP in the State has to put its house in order. I’m not pushing to serve anybody, because I know my worth, my capacity and my large follower base, it is where the party directs that I will follow.

It is believed that the internal crisis in Ugborodo is negatively affecting the Itsekiri nation politically, how far has the Ugborodo Peace Project gone?

I don’t think our internal crisis is affecting anything, I just think some people have their personal agenda. Some of us are just watching what the President and the Minister of Petroleum will do to assuage the neglect of our people, particularly after the successful Ground Breaking Ceremony of the NIMASA Dockyard and Shipyard as well as the Nigeria Maritime University in land originally belonging to Itsekiri, but presently taken over by our Gbaramatu neigbours. There are various suggestions by the Gbaramatu people, including the demand that the Jetty of the EPZ be named after Ijaw and Itsekiri communities. I am surprised that six of my brothers and 14 Journalists who came to carry out their legitimate duties to let the world know the true owner of the land hosting the EPZ were kidnapped by Tompolo militants on their return to Warri and till date there has been no condemnation of that unfortunate incident by the Federal Government.

Why were you not part of the Itsekiri delegation to the Abuja Peace parley initiated by the Minister of Petroleum on the EPZ controversy despite being one of the frontline Itsekiri agitators?

I was part of the committee, but the ugly incident regarding the kidnap of 14 Journalists and community people I took to Ogidigben made me not to attend. You don’t expect me to attend such meeting when I feel the person fighting my people is enjoying the backing of the Federal Government. I am still watching.

Is it true that the issues in Ugborodo, particularly the EPZ has to do with personality battle between yourself and Tompolo?

I don’t think I have any personal issue with Tompolo. He is not an Itsekiri man, but I am. My loyalty like I said earlier goes to the Olu of Warri. If any Itsekiri man feels that I have any personal issue with Tompolo, an Ijaw man, it is a pity. If I have personal issue with Tompolo, I believe both of us can sit down and resolve it.

Why do you think the Ijaw political representatives/appointees at both the National and State levels are more pro-active about issues affecting the Ijaw Nation, but their Itsekiri counterparts are complacent?

I prefer to be silent on that, but I will want to commend my Ijaw brothers regarding that, because political representation is more about the people than personal interest, this is perhaps the reason why Ijaw political leaders are more outspoken on issues that affect Ijaw ethnic nationality than my kinsmen in government.

What is your reaction to the controversy over the purchase of some gunboats on behalf of NIMASA by Tompolo’s company?

I condemn it because if an Itsekiri man had procured the gunboats, they will not allow us to sleep. If it is in America or other civilized countries, a man coming from amnesty will be under close scrutiny and surveillance but that is not the case in this country. The real fear by many is tied to the militant background of Tompolo. People are worried that the action might be connected with the threat of war after the 2015 elections. I don’t know whether NIMASA is going to war, because I believe such procurement should have been handled by the military, particularly the Navy since it has to do with maritime security. If we are talking of maintenance of such facility, one can understand if it is awarded to Tompolo’s company. These gunboats have been there for quite some time now and I am surprise that people didn’t know about it.

Despite the cries by various Itsekiri groups and individuals for the President to fix a fresh date for the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the EPZ, nothing has been done by the President, how pained are you as an Itsekiri man?

I am not too pained, because members of Warri Council of Chiefs, Itsekiri Leaders of Thought and the Olu of Warri have resolved to take a date to see Mr. President on the issue, to know if we are still part of this country. As an ethnic group, Uduaghan who have been an avid supporter of President Jonathan cannot convince the Itsekiri people to work for Mr. President.

What is your message to Deltans as we approach the 2015 polls?

Deltans should hold their voter’s card when sleeping, they should use it as pillow because that is their strength. Now that we are getting wind that our party flag bearer, Dr. Okowa has picked Kingsley Otuaro as his running mate, I must note that the decision should be respected, but I would have thought that the Isoko people clamour for the Deputy Governor’s slot ought to have been seriously considered by all for equity. The choice of Kingsley Otuaro also means Itsekiri should take the Delta South Senatorial seat come 2015.Senator James Manager’s maternal relationship with Isoko does not mean he is representing Isoko ethnic nationality. He has always spoken and stand with the Ijaws and can only advise when it comes to Isoko affair.

Sir, with all the reports of Tompolo, James Manager and Chief E.K. Clark seemingly dominating Delta politics as at today, is the Chief James Ibori political structure still intact in Delta State?

I don’t think anything or anybody is threatening the political legacy and structure of Chief James Ibori in Delta State. To put it simply, Ibori’s structure is very much intact. Those who claim to be leaders, especially in the South-South that are quick to look for cheap popularity when it comes to national issues that appears to impact negatively on their ethnic interest should be courageous enough to condemn acts of criminality and lawlessness when their kinsmen are guilty. In fact, I’m very surprised that they have not condemned the recent abduction of 14 journalists, who were at our coastal communities to carry out their legitimate duty as well as the six Ugborodo indigenes who escaped death by the whiskers in the hands of Tompolo militants. Till this moment, professional working tools of some of the Journalists are still held by Tompolo militants, yet it appears nothing happened. The so called leaders are yet to make any categorical statement regarding the controversial indefinite postponement of the Ogidigben EPZ Ground Breaking Ceremony by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan due to Tompolo’s threat.

Super Eagles star, Gbolahan Salami weds in Lagos

Super Eagles striker, Gbolahan Fuad Salami, 23, got married to his hearthrob, Opeloyeru Surat Lolade at the Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos Island this past Sunday Dec. 21st.

Ejo, ema binu for the long absence. Delta Airlines took us to Puerto Rico and kept us there for 3 hours to re-fuel and do maintenance. Una try. In the US now! Will get back blogging…

season to reason : Man arranges kidnap of his neighbor’s 3year old son in Rivers State

The Rivers State Police Command has rescued a 3 year old boy who was kidnapped by a 3-man gang named Ben Elenwo, Ogele Akiyo and Ibezin Isih. Ibezin is the neighbor to the boy’s parents and the initiator of his kidnap. Find the police press statement below…

The Rivers State Police Command wishes to inform the public of another safe rescue of a three-year old male child kidnap victim.

On 22/12/2014 at about 3:00PM, Police operatives tracked and stormed the kidnappers hideout located at Rumuodogu II, Port Harcourt where the child (name withheld) earlier kidnapped on 15/12/2014 was kept.

Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Police Command; CP Dan Bature handing over the rescued child to his father this morning. Continue…

Two suspected kidnappers Ben Elenwo and Ogele Akiyo, who with little resistance were arrested at the hideout which led to the subsequent arrest of their comrade in crime, Ibezin Isih at another location.

The idea of kidnapping the little victim was conceived and initiated by Ogele Akiyo, who is a co-tenants with the victim’s parents in same compound while Ben Elenwo who posed as the child school teacher executed the kidnapping.
The safely rescued child has since been handed over to his father personally by CP. Dan Bature in his office..

The Command will not relent in fighting crime and to continually reassure the people of its readiness of sustained instant response to tip offs and prompt response to distress calls while members of the public are urged to volunteer credible and timely information about any character or move capable of undermining the existing public peace and security the nearest Police Station or call the following Police distress phone lines 08032003514, 08028915460, 08028915462 and 08160723892.

DSP. Ahmad Kidaya Muhammad
Police Public Relations Officer,
Rivers State Police Command.

Houston Based Couple tragic death in Nigeria

It was meant to be a grieving and pleasure trip; one to honor family members with their presence. It was also an opportunity to share love with kinsmen at Christmas time. Tragically, the lives of Houston Texas based couple; Mr. and Mrs. Don and Nkem Okoro alongside their 2 year old niece; Zizi where cut short by an encounter with armed robbers along the Benin – Onitsha highway while on their way to participate and officiate  at the burial of  Don’s only younger brother, Emmanuel who died very recently.

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Mr. and Mrs. Okoro

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Zizi

The late couple also lost their daughter; Jennifer to cancer a few years ago. This brings to bear the state of insecurity in Nigeria and the constant fear in the minds of Diasporas who have full intentions of returning to their countries but have no confidence in the security apparatus. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Mr. and Mrs. Okoro and the five children they leave behind

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The Reign Of An Armed Robber, ANINI vs The Law!! 

Anini The Law!! The Reign Of An Armed Robber
By Mustapha Ogunsakin

Lawrence Nomanyag­bon Anini, Nigeria’s most notorious armed robber, was born some­time in 1960. He terrorised the old Bendel State, especially its capital, Benin City in the 1980s. By 1986, his robbery exploits had reached such a terrible level that it became a national issue. He op­erated along with his lieutenant, Monday Osunbor, and others. However, one striking feature in the Anini reign of terror was police complicity. It was soon dis­covered that the Anini gang had insiders within the Police hierar­chy. George Iyamu, a Deputy Su­perintendent of Police, was their arrowhead.

Anini, dreadfully called ‘The Law’ or ‘Ovbigbo’, was born in a village about 20 miles from Be­nin City. He migrated to Benin at an early age, learned to drive and became a skilled taxi driver within a few years. He became known in Benin motor parks as a man who could control the var­ied competing interests among motor park touts and operators. He later took to criminal acts in the city and soon became a driver and transporter for gangs, criminal godfathers and thieves. Soon after, he decided to create his own gang. They started out as car hijackers, bus robbers and bank thieves. Gradually, he ex­tended his criminal acts to other towns and cities far north and east of Benin.

The complicity of the police is believed to have enhanced Anini’s reign of terror in 1986. Early that year, two members of his gang were prosecuted over 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 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, where they carted away N2, 000. But although the amount sto­len was seen as chicken feed, they left the scene with a trail of blood. Many persons were killed.
On September 6, same year, the Anini gang snatched a Peu­geot 504 car from Albert Otoe, 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. It was not until three months later that the skeleton of the driver was spotted 16 kilometers away from Benin, along the 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 after, Anini’s men killed two policemen in Orhio­won Local Government of the state. Still in that month, three different robbery attacks, all pointing to Anini’s involvement, took place. They include the murder of Frank Unoarumi, a former employee of the Nigerian Observer newspapers; the killing of Mrs. Remi Sobanjo, a char­tered accountant, and the steal­ing of the Mercedes Benz car in Benin, of the Ughelli monarch, the Ovie.

Before September 1986 drew to a close, Anini, now an elusive dread, struck at a gas station along Wire Road, Benin, where he stole a substantial part of the day’s sales. He shot the Station’s attendant and gleefully started spraying his booty along the road for people to pick.

The height of Anini’s exploits, however, took place on October 1, 1986, the Independence Day when the state’s Commissioner of Police, Casmir Igbokwe was ambushed by the gang in Benin, followed by a hail of bullets. The police boss survived the attack with serious injuries. Earlier that day also, the Anini men had gunned down a police man with­in the city
Also, on October 21 of same year, the Anini gang terminated the life of a Benin-based medi­cal doctor, A.O Emojeve. They gunned him down along Textile Mill Road, in Benin. Not done, Anini and his gang went and robbed the Agbor branch of the African Continental Bank and carted away about N46, 000. A day after the operation, Anini, The Law, turned to a ‘Father Christmas’ as he threw wads of naira on the ground for market men and women to pick at a vil­lage near Benin.

Anini’s image thus loomed larger than life, dwarfing those of Ishola Oyenusi, the king of robbers in the 1970s and Youpelle Dakuro, the army deserter who masterminded the most vicious daylight robbery in Lagos in 1978, in which two policemen were killed. Anini spear-headed a four-month reign of terror between August and December 1986. He also reportedly wrote numerous letters to media hous­es using political tones of Robin Hood to describe his criminal acts.

Worried by the seeming elu­siveness of Anini and his gang members, the military Presi­dent, General Ibrahim Baban­gida then ordered a massive manhunt for the kingpin and his fellow robbers. The police thus went after them; combed every part of Bendel State where they were reportedly operating and living. The whole nation was gripped with fear of the robbers and their daredevil exploits.

However, Police manhunt failed to stop their activities; the more they were hunted, the more intensified their activities became. Some of the locals in the area even began to tell stories of their invincibility and for a while, it felt like they were never going to be caught.

However, at the conclusion of a meeting of the Armed Forces Ruling Council in October 1986, General Babangida turned to the Inspector- General of Police, Etim Inyang, and asked, ‘My friend, where is Anini?’. At about this time, Nigerian newspapers and journals were also publish­ing various reports and editori­als on the ‘Anini Challenge’, the ‘Anini Saga’, the ‘Anini Factor’, ‘Lawrence Anini – the Man, the Myth’, ‘Anini, Jack the Ripper’, and ‘Lawrence Anini: A Robin Hood in Bendel’. The Guardian asked, emphatically, in one of its reports: ‘Will they ever find Ani­ni, “The Law”?’

His arrest

Finally, it took the courage of Superintendent of Police, Kayode Uanreroro to bring the Anini reign of terror to an end. On December 3, 1986, Uanreroro caught Anini at No 26, Oyem­wosa Street, opposite Iguodala Primary School, Benin City, in company with 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 of the room, and Anini himself, clad in under­pants, opened the door. “Where is Anini,” the police officer quickly enquired. 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 inner room”. As he said it, he made some moves 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 then pumped more bullets into his shot leg and almost sev­ered the ankle from his entire leg. Already, anguished by the ex­cruciating pains, the policemen asked him, “Are you Anini?” And he replied, “My brother, I won’t deceive you; I won’t tell you lie, I’m Anini.” He was from there taken to the police command headquarters where the state’s Police Commissioner, Parry Osayande, was waiting. While in the police net, Anini who had poor command of English and could only communicate in pid­gin, made a whole lot of revela­tions. He disclosed, for instance 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

Anini was shot in the leg, transferred to a military hospi­tal, and had one of his legs am­putated. When Anini’s hideout was searched, police recovered assorted charms, including the one he usually wore around his waist during “operations”. It was instructive that after Anini was captured and dispossessed of his charms, the man who terror­ized a whole state and who was supposed to be fearless suddenly became remorseful, making con­fessions. This was against public expectation of a daredevil hood­lum who would remain defiant to the very end.

Shortly after the arrest of Anini and co, the dare-devil rob­bers began to revealthe roles played by key police officers and men, in the aiding and abetting of criminals in Bendel State and the entire country. Anini particu­larly revealed that Iyamu, who was the most senior police offi­cer shielding the robbers, would reveal police secrets to them and then, give them logistical sup­ports such as arms, to carry out robbery operations. He further revealed that Iyamu, after each operation, would join them in sharing the loot. It was further exposed how Iyamu planned to kill Christopher Omeben, an As­sistant Inspector-General of Po­lice in charge of Intelligence and Investigation. But Iyamu was later to be disappointed as the assailants dispatched to elimi­nate Omeben were only able to kill his driver, Otue, a sergeant. Iyamu, whom the robbers fondly referred to as ‘Baba’, reportedly had choice buildings in Benin City; proof of how he invested the loot he obtained from men of the underworld.
Due to the amputation of his leg, Anini was confined to a wheelchair throughout his trial. Iyamu, on his part, denied ever knowing and collaborating with Anini, but Anini The Law furi­ously retorted, “You are a shame­less liar!” Anini had accused him before Justice James Omo-Agege in the High Court of Justice in Benin City. Of the 10 police offi­cers Anini implicated, five were convicted. The robbery suspects, including Iyamu, were sentenced to death. But in passing his judgement, Justice Omo-Agege remarked, “Anini will forever be remembered in the history of crime in this country, but it would be of unblessed memory. Few people if ever, would give the name to their children.” Their execution took place on March 29, 1987.

By Mustapha Ogunsakin

Lawrence Nomanyag­bon Anini, Nigeria’s most notorious armed robber, was born some­time in 1960. He terrorised the old Bendel State, especially its capital, Benin City in the 1980s. By 1986, his robbery exploits had reached such a terrible level that it became a national issue. He op­erated along with his lieutenant, Monday Osunbor, and others. However, one striking feature in the Anini reign of terror was police complicity. It was soon dis­covered that the Anini gang had insiders within the Police hierar­chy. George Iyamu, a Deputy Su­perintendent of Police, was their arrowhead.

Anini, dreadfully called ‘The Law’ or ‘Ovbigbo’, was born in a village about 20 miles from Be­nin City. He migrated to Benin at an early age, learned to drive and became a skilled taxi driver within a few years. He became known in Benin motor parks as a man who could control the var­ied competing interests among motor park touts and operators. He later took to criminal acts in the city and soon became a driver and transporter for gangs, criminal godfathers and thieves. Soon after, he decided to create his own gang. They started out as car hijackers, bus robbers and bank thieves. Gradually, he ex­tended his criminal acts to other towns and cities far north and east of Benin.

The complicity of the police is believed to have enhanced Anini’s reign of terror in 1986. Early that year, two members of his gang were prosecuted over 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 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, where they carted away N2, 000. But although the amount sto­len was seen as chicken feed, they left the scene with a trail of blood. Many persons were killed.
On September 6, same year, the Anini gang snatched a Peu­geot 504 car from Albert Otoe, 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. It was not until three months later that the skeleton of the driver was spotted 16 kilometers away from Benin, along the 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 after, Anini’s men killed two policemen in Orhio­won Local Government of the state. Still in that month, three different robbery attacks, all pointing to Anini’s involvement, took place. They include the murder of Frank Unoarumi, a former employee of the Nigerian Observer newspapers; the killing of Mrs. Remi Sobanjo, a char­tered accountant, and the steal­ing of the Mercedes Benz car in Benin, of the Ughelli monarch, the Ovie.

Before September 1986 drew to a close, Anini, now an elusive dread, struck at a gas station along Wire Road, Benin, where he stole a substantial part of the day’s sales. He shot the Station’s attendant and gleefully started spraying his booty along the road for people to pick.

The height of Anini’s exploits, however, took place on October 1, 1986, the Independence Day when the state’s Commissioner of Police, Casmir Igbokwe was ambushed by the gang in Benin, followed by a hail of bullets. The police boss survived the attack with serious injuries. Earlier that day also, the Anini men had gunned down a police man with­in the city
Also, on October 21 of same year, the Anini gang terminated the life of a Benin-based medi­cal doctor, A.O Emojeve. They gunned him down along Textile Mill Road, in Benin. Not done, Anini and his gang went and robbed the Agbor branch of the African Continental Bank and carted away about N46, 000. A day after the operation, Anini, The Law, turned to a ‘Father Christmas’ as he threw wads of naira on the ground for market men and women to pick at a vil­lage near Benin.

Anini’s image thus loomed larger than life, dwarfing those of Ishola Oyenusi, the king of robbers in the 1970s and Youpelle Dakuro, the army deserter who masterminded the most vicious daylight robbery in Lagos in 1978, in which two policemen were killed. Anini spear-headed a four-month reign of terror between August and December 1986. He also reportedly wrote numerous letters to media hous­es using political tones of Robin Hood to describe his criminal acts.

Worried by the seeming elu­siveness of Anini and his gang members, the military Presi­dent, General Ibrahim Baban­gida then ordered a massive manhunt for the kingpin and his fellow robbers. The police thus went after them; combed every part of Bendel State where they were reportedly operating and living. The whole nation was gripped with fear of the robbers and their daredevil exploits.

However, Police manhunt failed to stop their activities; the more they were hunted, the more intensified their activities became. Some of the locals in the area even began to tell stories of their invincibility and for a while, it felt like they were never going to be caught.

However, at the conclusion of a meeting of the Armed Forces Ruling Council in October 1986, General Babangida turned to the Inspector- General of Police, Etim Inyang, and asked, ‘My friend, where is Anini?’. At about this time, Nigerian newspapers and journals were also publish­ing various reports and editori­als on the ‘Anini Challenge’, the ‘Anini Saga’, the ‘Anini Factor’, ‘Lawrence Anini – the Man, the Myth’, ‘Anini, Jack the Ripper’, and ‘Lawrence Anini: A Robin Hood in Bendel’. The Guardian asked, emphatically, in one of its reports: ‘Will they ever find Ani­ni, “The Law”?’

His arrest

Finally, it took the courage of Superintendent of Police, Kayode Uanreroro to bring the Anini reign of terror to an end. On December 3, 1986, Uanreroro caught Anini at No 26, Oyem­wosa Street, opposite Iguodala Primary School, Benin City, in company with 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 of the room, and Anini himself, clad in under­pants, opened the door. “Where is Anini,” the police officer quickly enquired. 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 inner room”. As he said it, he made some moves 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 then pumped more bullets into his shot leg and almost sev­ered the ankle from his entire leg. Already, anguished by the ex­cruciating pains, the policemen asked him, “Are you Anini?” And he replied, “My brother, I won’t deceive you; I won’t tell you lie, I’m Anini.” He was from there taken to the police command headquarters where the state’s Police Commissioner, Parry Osayande, was waiting. While in the police net, Anini who had poor command of English and could only communicate in pid­gin, made a whole lot of revela­tions. He disclosed, for instance 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

Anini was shot in the leg, transferred to a military hospi­tal, and had one of his legs am­putated. When Anini’s hideout was searched, police recovered assorted charms, including the one he usually wore around his waist during “operations”. It was instructive that after Anini was captured and dispossessed of his charms, the man who terror­ized a whole state and who was supposed to be fearless suddenly became remorseful, making con­fessions. This was against public expectation of a daredevil hood­lum who would remain defiant to the very end.

Shortly after the arrest of Anini and co, the dare-devil rob­bers began to revealthe roles played by key police officers and men, in the aiding and abetting of criminals in Bendel State and the entire country. Anini particu­larly revealed that Iyamu, who was the most senior police offi­cer shielding the robbers, would reveal police secrets to them and then, give them logistical sup­ports such as arms, to carry out robbery operations. He further revealed that Iyamu, after each operation, would join them in sharing the loot. It was further exposed how Iyamu planned to kill Christopher Omeben, an As­sistant Inspector-General of Po­lice in charge of Intelligence and Investigation. But Iyamu was later to be disappointed as the assailants dispatched to elimi­nate Omeben were only able to kill his driver, Otue, a sergeant. Iyamu, whom the robbers fondly referred to as ‘Baba’, reportedly had choice buildings in Benin City; proof of how he invested the loot he obtained from men of the underworld.
Due to the amputation of his leg, Anini was confined to a wheelchair throughout his trial. Iyamu, on his part, denied ever knowing and collaborating with Anini, but Anini The Law furi­ously retorted, “You are a shame­less liar!” Anini had accused him before Justice James Omo-Agege in the High Court of Justice in Benin City. Of the 10 police offi­cers Anini implicated, five were convicted. The robbery suspects, including Iyamu, were sentenced to death. But in passing his judgement, Justice Omo-Agege remarked, “Anini will forever be remembered in the history of crime in this country, but it would be of unblessed memory. Few people if ever, would give the name to their children.” Their execution took place on March 29, 1987.