By Agujiegbe Charles Ezenwa Mbajito
Nigeria has had her fair share of notable armed robbers like Dr Ishola Oyenusi and Abiodun Egunjobi who terrorised the entire South-west. Lawrence Anini who dealt with the entire South-South.
And Here Is the Story of Derico Nwamama who held the Entire South-East to a stand-still (Especially Anambra State). His real name is Okwudili Ndiwe A.K.A Derico Nwamama!
Derico started out as a Street Urchin in Onitsha, then graduated to a pickpocket, and then to a dreaded Criminal whose mere mention of his name sent shivers down the spines of every single human being in the entire South East part of Nigeria.
THE RISE OF DERICO NWAMAMA!
Indeed, long before Derico became famous for his Exploits in the City of Onitsha, The entire Anambra State was under the control of another Ruthless, Merciless and Cold Blooded Armed Robber known as Chiejina…
Under the Reign of Chiejina and his gang, all residents of Onitsha were living in fear. In fact, a Policeman once told me a horrifying story about Chiejina.
He said that on 16th of February 1999, two days after valentine celebration, Chiejina, acting on a tip-off besieged a family in Onitsha hoping to get money from the man of the house, but unfortunately, the man didn’t come home with money, he had gone to the bank before going home.
Chiejina became so enraged that he grabbed the man’s 4months old son, threatened to throw the baby from a 3 storey building, and when the man and his wife weren’t forthcoming with his demands, he flung the baby from 3 storey building and shot the man twice in the head!
HE WAS THAT RUTHLESS!
In fact, Reports have it that he forced families to have incest in front of him for his own amusement. He forced Fathers to sleep with their daughters and Mothers to sleep with their sons, Refusal meant death!
Derico and Chiejina were very good friends at that time and also colleagues in the Armed Robbery Business, a friendship that started during the famous Umuleri/Aguleri War… But Derico was not based in Onitsha then, he was based in Abuja, the Federal Capital territory and only visited the east from time to time to carry out his robbery operations with maximum terror.
And after raining a torrent of bullets and gunfire upon the hapless and ill-equipped officers of the Nigerian Police and defenceless Nigerians, he would speed back to his safe haven, with his loot, safe on the laps of power, luxury and comfort.
But according to reports, wahala started in November 1999, when the then Obi Of Onitsha, HRH Obi Ofala Okagbue rallied Onitsha-Ado Youths to help curb the ever rising Crime in the City to enable indigenes who ran away to return for the Christmas Celebration of that year…
Ado youths then sat together with some of the notorious armed robbers to know how to settle them and have peace return to the City of Onitsha…
Chiejina and Derico were present in the meeting!
But after the meeting, the deadly Chiejina refused to stand down, in fact, he attacked some members of the Ado Youth and became even more ruthless in the entire State!
Ado Youths sought the help of his bosom friend, Derico but it didn’t yield much fruit, so they decided to give him a taste of his own medicine!
They liaised with Derico and some special Police Officers to raid Chiejina and his gang. The Operation was not totally successful because Chiejina was not present at the time but members of his gang were rounded up and sent to The Central Police Station, Onitsha.
When Chiejina learnt what happened, he felt betrayed by his bosom friend, Derico, and without thinking about the consequences, called on his right-hand man who also doubled as his bike man, Amobi, to take him straight to Derico’s parent’s house.
On getting there, he met Derico’s father and decorated the man with lots of bullets!!!
Derico heard about it and set out for revenge immediately, he ran into Chiejina close to Emmanuel Church at Ugwunokpamba road, Onitsha and pumped in lots of bullets into the Great Chiejina, and the Iroko of the Underworld fell into a gutter…
Derico then put Chiejina into a wheelbarrow and wheeled him to the Police Station at Isiokwe, Onitsha.
An unconfirmed report claimed that Chiejina didn’t die on the spot, that while in the wheelbarrow, he begged Derico to kill him and not take him to the Police Station alive. Derico then obliged him and pumped in one final shot to end the evil reign of one of Nigeria’s meanest Criminals!
On getting to the Police Station, Officers were dancing and celebrating, they lifted Derico up as their Hero and celebrated him as the King of the Town.
Little did they know that they just crowned a more wicked soul, the King and Protector of Onitsha!
INDEED THE DERICO YOU KNOW WAS “BORN” ON THE DAY HE KILLED CHIEJINA!
After the death of Chiejina, Derico became the undisputed Emperor of Terror in the Land. The Entire Anambra State was in the soup and the environs will not be spared too!
At some point, Derico used the town of Umuleri as his hideout.
Then from there, he would issue threatening messages to the police that they will pay for killing members of his gang.
He also maintained bases in other towns like Agbor, Benin and Asaba.
Indeed, the traders in Onitsha could not display their wares with peace while many slept with one eye open. Derico sacked commercial banks in Onitsha, carting away millions of naira. Travellers who had to pass through the state held their breath expecting the hoodlum to strike at any time.
The then Governor of the state, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, became an old man over night with worries on how to handle the menace of Derico.
He was described as the personification of terror. From Nnewi to Nkpor, down to Onitsha, up to Asaba, from the villages in Umuleri to towns in Ihiala, the old and the young, Men, women and Children were terrified at the mere whisper of Derico Nwamama.
He took over people’s Lands, Businesses, Wives and all his members including members of his family got away with anything because they were related to him!
At that time, he was said to be invisible and could not be arrested.
According to reports, Derico Nwamama killed over 200 people including 25 police officers whose lives he mercilessly wasted. He was a master of countless bus robberies and will not blink twice before pumping his hot lead bullets into the beating hearts of helpless victims.
And after his successful raids, he would boast and declare himself invincible. Derico seemed to have placed a lot of faith and confidence in the charms prepared for him by the traditional witch doctors.
Indeed, Governor Mbadinuju was not the only one worried about the reign of terror perpetrated by Derico Nwamama as even President Olusegun Obasanjo was enraged that the criminal was left to unleash terror in a part of Nigeria.
The police were helpless and had lost many men to the dreaded bandit and seemed at wits end on what to do to bring him and his gang to book. In May 2001, the Anambra State Police Command launched the Operation Derico, which was aimed at capturing Derico and his gang members at all cost.
The police managed to arrest some of Derico’s men but he was still elusive as he kept operating with reckless abandon, robbing, killing and kidnapping innocent Nigerians.
THE FALL OF DERICO NWAMAMA!
In December 2000, Derico and his gang committed the worst crime known to man till date!
They attacked a 59-seater-Luxurious Bus filled to the brim at the Popular Upper Iweka. The bus was about to leave for Lagos.
After robbing every single person in the bus, they decided to kill everybody on board! Including women and children, and mercilessly, the devil himself (Derico) gave the orders and his men shot all the passengers, execution style and left them for dead! (Only 4 people survived the ordeal)!
After that horrible incident, the then Governor of Anambra State, Chinwoke Mbadinuju didn’t have any other choice but to bring in the Dreaded Bakassi Boys to help save the State.
Bakassi Boys in Action
On Tuesday, July 3, 2001, (If this date is your birthday, then u deserve one bottle of whatever your brand plus one plate of Nkwobi because that was the day Onitsha, and indeed Anambra State was liberated)!
On the 3rd of July, 2001, Derico was on a bus going from Agbor to Onitsha, on getting to the Onitsha axis of the Bridge Head, The Dreaded Bakassi Boys stopped the bus.
Sensing danger, The Crime Lord Jumped the Window to run away, but before he could make the first after jumping out, the nearest Bakassi member on the scene chopped off his left ear and that was how Derico was captured.
And For a man who thought he was above the law and could not be captured, it was funny how he started crying and pleading for his life. He was taken to Borromeo Hospital for treatment cos he was bleeding profusely.
When news of his capture broke, ever single human being in Anambra State celebrated as if it was the second coming of Christ!
Indeed, Derico met his end in an awful manner. Before then, the Bakassi Boys had developed a terrible and blood-chilling reputation for dealing with suspects and Derico’s days were surely numbered from when he was caught.
On the 9th of July 2001, six days after Derico was captured at the Niger Bridge, the Bakassi Boys did to him what many had earlier predicted. Chanting war songs, they drove in their convoy around the town and ended at the Ochanja Market Junction along the popular Upper Iweka Road in Onitsha.
As their buses came to a halt, shouts of excitement and expectation rented the air. Many knew the fate that would befall Derico, so they all trooped to the spot to witness the final judgment on him.
Derico was dragged out from the bus, looking gaunt and severely beaten, a trademark of the vigilante group. His body bore cuts and gashes, a testament to what he must have gone through in their hands. He must also have known that the day of reckoning has come.
He was in obvious pains but no one seemed to care. Still chanting war songs and egged on by the enchanted crowd, one of the commanders of the Bakassi Boys named Okpompi, addressed the crowd, telling them they were in the state not for politics but to fight crime.
He handed over the microphone to the now trembling Derico who, like a coward, began begging for his life to be spared. He made feeble attempts at declaring his innocence:
“My name is Oddy, alias Derico, alias Nwa Mama. I appeal to you the people of Anambra State, please don’t kill me, I don’t like evil. It was when I killed Chiejina that people thought I am a strong guy, you know.
I trust Bakassi Boys. They are strong. Please, mercy for me. Nobody can identify me as having robbed him. People just believe that I am a strong guy.”
He confessed that while he was on the run, he was sheltered by a member of the National Assembly in Abuja. He also confessed that he had two other powerful protectors, one being a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly while the other was the chairman of a local government council.
What was to follow remains one of the most macabre displays of public executions in Nigeria. With the speed of a guillotine, a cutlass handled in the strong arm of one of the Bakassi Boys flew and came down with an unforgiving thud, landing on Derico’s slim neck. In a flash, Derico was beheaded.
TAKE A PAUSE AT THIS POINT AND PLACE YOURSELF ON THE SCENE! MIND YOU, THIS POPULAR DERICO WAS JUST 22 YEARS OLD WHEN HIS HEAD LEFT HIS SHOULDERS!!!
His severed head rolled on the floor before the crowd while his convulsing body collapsed on the ground, with bright-red blood gushing from his carotid arteries. It was as if a sacrifice to the gods had just taken place.
The crowd was satisfied and as far as the Bakassi Boys were concerned, that was a clear lesson and message to any criminal bent on making life miserable for the Anambrarians.
With the lifeless remains of Derico still lying on the floor, the people erupted in jubilation, patting one another on the backs and exchanging mutual congratulations after a monstrously grotesque show of iron and blood. That was not the end.
Razor-sharp machetes flew from different directions and chopped his pitiful remains into sizable chunks. Derico’s mangled remains were heaped up, properly rinsed with fuel and set on fire.
Derico Burnt to Ashes
AFTER HIS DEATH, LOTS OF MOVIES ABOUT HIM WAS MADE!
BUT HE WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS!!!