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Top 10 Notorious Criminals in Nigeria’s History

Many Nigerians have brought honour and glory to our great country. Some others have done the exact opposite. A criminal, according to the Oxford Languages dictionary, is a person who has committed a crime.

Saying these notorious criminals “committed a crime” is an immense understatement for their actions. They are infamous for some of the world’s most nefarious crimes. After reading this post on the top 10 notorious criminals in Nigeria’s history, you can judge for yourself.

1. Abubakar Shekau

Abubakar Shekau needs no introduction. The man was the leader of the Boko Haram terrorist group that terrorized – and still terrorizes – northern Nigeria and other African countries at the borders of the north.

He was part of the group from its formation in 2002, serving as the deputy under the founder Mohammed Yusuf. When Mohammed Yusuf was executed in 2009, he became the leader of the sect. 

He remained the leader until his death in May 2021. Abubakar Sheaku reportedly died by suicide bombing.

2. Shina Rambo

Shina Rambo is immortalized in many Nollywood movies. However, not many Nigerians know about him. Shina was a criminal kingpin that made Southwestern Nigeria inhabitable during the 1990s.

Eventually, he was arrested and sent to prison. Upon his release, he became a pastor and began preaching the gospel.

It’s uncertain whether Shina Rambo is alive or dead, as many people refuse to believe that the converted Christian was the once criminal kingpin.

3. Derico Nwamama

Born Okwudili Ndiwe, it’s impossible to talk about criminals in Nigeria and not mention Derico Nwamama. Derico pioneered deadly criminal activities in southeastern Nigeria, specifically in Anambra state.

He was active for just one year yet killed over 120 people, including police officers and civilians. The Nigerian Police in Anambra tried unsuccessfully to apprehend Derico.

Ultimately, he was captured by the Bakassi Boys in mid-2001. They beheaded him at the marketplace. Derico wasn’t up to 23 years when he died.

4. Lawrence Anini

Again, here’s another infamous Nigerian whose tales have seen the cameras of Nollywood. Anini was born in 1960, the year Nigeria got her independence.

He was active in the south-south region of Nigeria – the city of Benin in Edo State. Also known as Ovbigbo and The Law, Anini perpetrated his activities with his partner, Monday Osunbor.

The Nigerian forces captured him after suffering a gunshot wound. They treated his wounds, and when he was OK, he was sentenced to death and killed by a firing squad.

5. Evans

Most of the criminals on this list had their hay days before 2,000. However, Evans is different. He’s a contemporary criminal yet one of the most notorious in Nigeria’s history.

Among his many activities, Evans is most infamous as a kidnapper. His nickname “The Billionaire Kidnapper” is a testament to how much he’s made from his illicit activities. Reports show that he collects up to a million dollars to release his captives.

Evans was arrested in 2017 and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2022.

6. Isiaka Busari

Popularly known as Mighty Joe, Isiaka Busari was the second in command of the criminal empire of Ishola Oyenusi. He took over power after Ishola was executed and rose to become one of the most dreaded Nigerians in the 70s.

This was not long after the Nigerian civil war, so most of the members of his gangs were demobilized soldiers. Isiaka Busari is said to be two times more brutal than his predecessor, Ishola. Ultimately, he was arrested without much struggle and sentenced to death by firing squad.

7. Doctor Ishola

During the early 1970s, Oyenusi ruled as a ruthless armed robber. Eventually, he was tracked down and murdered in front of an estimated 30,000 Nigerians on the world-famous Bar Beach on September 8, 1971. 

The idea that Oyenusi, rumored to possess magical abilities, could be apprehended was unbelievable. At the low point of his criminal career, he allegedly said bullet has no power on me.

In March of 1971, he and his crew committed their final robbery at the WAHUM factory in Ikeja, where they took £28,000 and murdered a police officer.

8. Gana

Gana was the leader of a militia in the Nigerian state of Benue. His reign of terror in Katsina state lasted for over a decade, reaching a peak between 2015 and 2020. His gang members would randomly attack neighborhoods and hold their citizens for ransom, raking millions of naira.

Massacres, assassinations, robberies, and murders are among the charges against Gana. His head had a fifty million reward tag because multiple attempts to find him failed. After he handed himself in for amnesty on September 8, 2020, the Nigerian Army killed him.

9. Badoo of Ikorodu

A significant focus of Baddo of Ikorodu’s business was the Ikorodu corridor in Lagos State. Both children and women are targets of his sexual assaults and robberies. Ikorodu was under Baddo’s reign of terror for quite some time.

10. Godogodo

Godogodo was the latest incarnation of Anini. Godogodo was an ex-convict and armed robber who posed a serious threat to the safety of Lagos and the surrounding states in the southwestern part of Nigeria for a long time.

Godogodo rose from humble beginnings in a shantytown to become a robbery kingpin. He evaded capture by law enforcement for fourteen years before his arrest in 2013 by the now-defunct SARS of the Lagos State Police Command.

Kyari had the position of police superintendent at the time. The command celebrated his capture with great joy.

Bottom Line

Do your best to be a good citizen and bring pride to the name “Nigeria.” There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be famous, just not be infamous like the notorious criminals on the list.