Your Habit Determines Your Habitat! 2

Gbenga

Gbenga

THE RISE AND FALL OF LAWRENCE ANINI, ALIAS THE LAW

One of the greatest philosophers of all times, Aristotle, once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” The basic truth about life is that men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way. The 1990 American heritage dictionary defines habit as “a pattern of behaviour acquired by frequent repetition”.The “Iron” Lady of Britain and former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher said, “Watch your thoughts or they become words. Watch your words before they become actions. Watch your actions before they become habits. Watch your habits before they become your character. And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.” You must consciously cultivate the habits that you are willing should master you. Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.

“Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity”- Saint Augustine.
One of the most nefarious stories of armed robbery was that of a Nigerian bandit who terrorized Benin City in the 1980s, Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini. Anini was born in a village about 20 miles from Benin City in present-day Edo state. He held sway in the dark world of robbery, until his inglorious fall from his height of great impunity. His evolution as a hardened criminal and the ‘punisher’ of the Nigerian civil society was gradual but consistent. He started out as a car park tout but later dived into the criminal business in Benin City and soon became a transporter for gangs, criminal godfathers and thieves. Later on, he decided to create his own gang which included, Monday Osunbor, Friday Ofege, Henry Ekponwan, Eweka and Alhaji Zed Zed or Zege Zege who was never captured. 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.

“Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow” – Yiddish proverb.
On so many occasions, Anini will rob his victims in broad daylight and gleefully sprayed his booty along the road for people to pick. The height of Anini’s madness, however, took place on October 1, 1986, the Independence Day, when the state’s Commissioner of Police, Casmir Igbokwe was ambushed by Anini’s gang and only escaped death by the whiskers. His reign of terror was unprecedented in the history of armed robbery, Anini’s image thus, loomed larger than life, dwarfing those on Ishola Oyenusi, the king of robbers in the 1970s.

Worried by the seeming elusiveness of Anini and his gang members, the military president, General Ibrahim Babangida then ordered a massive man hunt for the kingpin and his fellow robbers. It was obvious that the ‘Almighty Maradona’ as the former president was called back then has a master in the game of elusiveness. It was glaring that Anini had become Babangida’s nightmare! However, the manhunt failed to stop their activities; the more they were hunted, the more intensified their activities became. It was obvious that Babangida’s patience was running out when turned to the Inspector- General of Police, Etim Inyang in one of the meeting of the Armed Forces Ruling Council in October 1986 and asked, “ My friend, where is Anini?.”

Babangida was thoroughly embarrassed by the nagging menace caused by the Anini saga that he was even ridiculed by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) that as the military president, he held sway over 17 of the 19 states of the federation while Anini and his cohorts controlled two: Lagos and Bendel which were ruled by criminals. Even the citizens of the old Bendel state refer to Anini as ‘The Governor’. When people mentioned the Governor of Bendel state, they would ask you: “Anini or Inienger?” Inienger, a colonel in the Nigerian army was the governor of Bendel state.
“The only way to eliminate bad habits is to replace them with good ones”- Jerome Hines

Finally, it took the undaunted courage of the superintendent of police, Kayode Uanreroro to bring the Anini reign of terror to an end. On December 6, 1986, Uanreroro caught the elusive criminal in company of six women. Anini’s insatiable appetite for women and liquor finally led to his doom. Acting on a tip- off from the locals, Uanreroro led a crack 10- man to demystify the invincibility of the dare-devil hoodlum. Shortly after the arrest of Anini and his gang of marauding robbers, they began to squeal, revealing the role played by the key police officers and men, in the aiding and abetting of the criminals in Bendel State and the entire country. Anini particularly revealed that George Sam Iyamu, a deputy superintendent of Police, who was the most senior police officer shielding the robbers, would reveal to police secrets to them and then, give them logistic supports to carry out robbery operations. Anini and his collaborators were convicted and sentenced to death by Justice Omo-Agege in the High Court of Justice, off Sapele Road, Benin city. 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.” Anini’s execution took place on March 29, 1987. Anini would be cut down in a shower of bullets before thousands of the same Nigerians he had terrified.

Shortly after the arrest of Anini and his gang of marauding robbers, they began to squeal, revealing the role played by the key police officers and men, in the aiding and abetting of the criminals in Bendel State and the entire country. Anini particularly revealed that George Sam Iyamu, a deputy superintendent of Police, who was the most senior police officer shielding the robbers, would reveal to police secrets to them and then, give them logistic supports to carry out robbery operations.

Anini and his collaborators were convicted and sentenced to death by Justice Omo-Agege in the High Court of Justice, off Sapele Road, Benin city. 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.” Anini’s execution took place on March 29, 1987. Anini would be cut down in a shower of bullets before thousands of the same Nigerians he had terrified.
“Conquer your bad habits lest they eventually conquer you”- F.M. Britto.

Our dependency on oil has turned Nigeria into a gangster’s paradise by rewarding political miscreants and social touts ahead of people with great intellectual value. One of the conspicuous ills of our total dependency on oil is the level of impunity and corruption that has been heralded by the Nigerian oil. The oil money is so volatile and prone to abusive spending. Till today, the mysterious 20 billion dollar oil fund that is missing hasn’t been accounted for! The proceeds from the Nigerian oil have been used in ‘lubricating’ classical corruption and impunity in high places. President Muhammadu Buhari has severally reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the diversification of the economy. We have to be resolute and firm in our shift towards a more robust and diversified economy.
“If we don’t consciously form good habits, we will unconsciously form bad ones”-Mark Matteson.

John C. Maxwell once said, “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine”. I want to sincerely appeal to the Nigerian youths to eschew corruption in all forms. No habit exists in isolation. An alcoholic will gamble and womanize and also people that are addicted to drugs will eventually steal. Any habit that you refuse to deal with in the present, will deal with you in the future. Stop that habit of stealing, pornography, masturbation, lying, anger or whatever it is that is holding back from living a fulfilling life. You have to ‘face’ your bad habits so that you can ‘phase’ them out! Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality. So every day you keep going on in your resolve to stop a habit, and refusing to give up, brings you a day closer to freedom. I want to also encourage the youths to beware of toxic relationships, Dan Buettner once said, “the people you surround yourself with influence your behaviour, so choose friends who have healthy habits.”

So every day you keep going on in your resolve to stop a habit, and refusing to give up, brings you a day closer to freedom. I want to also encourage the youths to beware of toxic relationships, Dan Buettner once said, “the people you surround yourself with influence your behaviour, so choose friends who have healthy habits.”
“I have the same friends and the same bad habits” – Nate Silver

The late Anini had penchant for pilfering and stealing when he was young; his habit of greed for other people’s things coupled with his addiction to liquor and women, went unchecked and unabated until the day he faced his doom. Kill that habit before it kills you! The canker of stealing and corruption has decimated and stunted national growth, let us change our habits and evolve a sane Nigeria where our resources will be judiciously used to advance our economy and not just to enrich the cursed greed of some demented few. One of our former presidents said that stealing is not corruption! But to the Nigerian youths, I am saying emphatically that stealing will lead you to corruption. I repeat stealing is corruption!

Gbenga Adebambo is the Dean of Schools at the Educational Advancement Centre (EAC), an author, youth specialist, international coach and the Editor-In-Chief of MAXIMUM IMPACT MAGAZINE. He is also the founder of the youth ministry called STOP ‘T’(Seeing Tomorrow’s Opportunities and Potentials Today), a ministry that is involved in discovering and nurturing hidden potentials in youths in order to equip them for tomorrow’s challenges, opportunities and responsibilities.



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