Whether Lawrence Anini or Dezianini: Thief na Thief! -By Ahmed Oluwasanjo

Filed under: National Issues |
Ahmed Oluwasanjo

Ahmed Oluwasanjo

 

The 10.5 million out-of-school Nigerian children, epileptic power supply, poor healthcare system, fallen educational standard, and with over 100 million Nigerians living below poverty line, about 50 million unemployed graduates and above all, the Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed over 15,000 lives and left over a million as IDP’s in their own country are pointers to how badly Nigeria has been managed.

As a child, I grew up hearing many funny stories. The story of how India defeated Nigeria by a hundred goal margin in a football match; how a Nigerian footballer, Thunder Balogun, thundered a shot that ripped his younger brother’s intestine; and the story of Lawrence Anini, a notorious armed robber in the old Bendel state.

Nothing is as good as growing up to know that two of these stories were actually fictitious, but Anini’s was true. Anini was the dreaded leader of a one-in-town armed robbery gang, the thought of who made the police pee in their pants. From attacking banks to car snatching, he was no good news to Nigerians.

However, the realisation of the aphorism, “all day for the thief, one day for the owner” caught up with Anini on December 3, 1986. His death sentence in March 1987 made news headlines that triggered jubilation amongst Nigerians. Little did they know that more sophisticated ‘Aninis’ were lurking in the polity.

Many years after Lawrence Anini’s execution, Nigeria has been under the siege of successive administrative and political ‘Aninis’ who have held our beloved country to ransom at pen-point. They are spread across tribes, ethnic groups, regions and religions. From the 774 local government areas to the 36 states of the federation, the Aninis have impoverished Nigeria. Comparing the resources that have come into our disposal as a country and the development on ground would suffice my assertions.

The 10.5 million out-of-school Nigerian children, epileptic power supply, poor healthcare system, fallen educational standard, and with over 100 million Nigerians living below poverty line, about 50 million unemployed graduates and above all, the Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed over 15,000 lives and left over a million as IDP’s in their own country are pointers to how badly Nigeria has been managed.

Ironically, some Nigerians who wouldn’t mind lynching a petty thief to show their aversion for stealing would gullibly believe pen-robbers are witch-hunted, when probed. We shouldn’t be surprised if protests are staged to shield Dezianini and co. from probe and prosecution. But, I will be the last to believe there is a difference between Lawrence Anini, General Sanini (the apple general) and Dezianini, because thief na thief.

Most remarkably, the immediate past administration in Nigeria featured the deadliest set of ‘Aninis’ in our history. If the revelations under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on how our common wealth was plundered are really true, then I doubt if General Sanini (the apple general), his predecessors and successors could stand without quivering besides the recently past looting record. Even Lawrence Anini would be a rookie in the game beside the Dezianinis of our time because his most remarkable heist at the African Intercontinental Bank, Agbor branch fetched him about N46,000.00 (not more than USD$10,000) at the time.

But, how could just one ex-minister temerariously steal $6billion, an amount enough to build four different Burj Khalifas at $1.5billion each?! I mean the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the craze of tourists worldwide. The alleged one million barrels of crude oil diverted daily by cabal in the immediate past administration for four years should top the list of scams in the Guinness Book of Records, if confirmed. I expect that, very soon, heads would start rolling because these scams are too colossal to contemplate, talk less of being ignored.

The administration of President Buhari has to act fast and decisively on how looters are probed and duly prosecuted, as just a mere media trail or plea bargains would wane its social acceptance. Enough of the publicity given looters and their being treated with kid gloves, some of us wouldn’t mind who goes to jail or for how many years they are sentenced to–even if multiple life times sentences–once they are found guilty and convicted as such.

Ironically, some Nigerians who wouldn’t mind lynching a petty thief to show their aversion for stealing would gullibly believe pen-robbers are witch-hunted, when probed. We shouldn’t be surprised if protests are staged to shield Dezianini and co. from probe and prosecution. But, I will be the last to believe there is a difference between Lawrence Anini, General Sanini (the apple general) and Dezianini, because thief na thief.

Ahmed Oluwasanjo writes from Abuja and can be reached at [email protected]

 

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