Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini 1960 – March 29, 1987 was a famous Nigerian bandit who terrorised Benin City in the 1980s along with his sidekick Monday Osunbor. He was captured and executed for his crimes.
Anini was born in a village about 20 miles from Benin City in present day Edo State. He migrated to Benin at an early age, learned to drive and became a skilled taxi driver in a few years. He became known in Benin motor parks as a man who could control the varied competing interest among motor park touts and operators.
He later dived into the criminal business in the city and soon became a driver and transporter for gangs, criminal godfathers and thieves. Later on, he decided to create his own gang and 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 triggered Anini’s reign of terror in 1986. In early 1986, two members of his gang were tried and prosecuted against an earlier under-the-table bribe induced 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. On August, 1986, a fatal bank robbery linked to Anini was reported in which a police officer and a child 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 9 police officers. He wrote numerous letters to media houses using political tones of Robin Hood-like words to describe his criminal acts.
On December 3, 1986, he was caught at a house off the main street of Benin in the company of six women friends. Anini was shot in the leg, transferred to a military hospital, and had one of his legs amputated. The country’s military leader, Ibrahim Babangida, demanded a speedy trial. Anini was convicted of most of his charges and was executed on March 29, 1987