In this article we are going to be looking at the true crime story of Derico Nwamama, the most dangerous armed robber in Igbo history and how he was apprehended and executed by Bakassi Boys. Okwudili Ndiwe popularly known as Derico Nwamama was a Nigerian armed robber and bandit. He terrorized Anambra State in the south eastern part of Nigeria from 2000 until he was apprehended by the Bakassi Boys in 2001.
Derico Nwamama started off as a pickpocket and street urchin. He later transformed into an armed robber during the tenure of Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju atthe age of 22 years old. He started off by robbing market women and banks. He was reported to have killed 25 policemen and at least 100 civilians during his life time.
To many Nigerians, the name Derico Nwamama represents chilling terror. Nigeria has had her fair share of notable armed robbers like Dr Ishola Oyenusi and Abiodun Egunjobi who terrorized 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. He started out as a Street Urchin in Onitsha, then graduated to a pickpocket, and then to a dreaded criminal, to the extent that just a mere mention of his name sent shivers down the spines of every single human being in the entire South East region of Nigeria.
Indeed, long before Derico Nwamama 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 stated that on the 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 four months 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!
In fact, reports have it that he forced families to have sex in front of him for his own amusement. He forced Fathers to sleep with their daughters and Mothers to sleep with their sons, Refusal means 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 of Nigeria and only visited the south 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 helpless and ill-equipped officers of the Nigerian Police and defenseless 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.
Onitsha-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 in 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 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 in 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 in 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!
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. 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 sleep in peace while many slept with one eye open. Derico sacked commercial banks in Onitsha, carting away millions of naira. Travelers who had to pass through the state held their breath expecting the hoodlum to strike at any time.
The then Governor of Anambra state, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, became an old man over night with worries on how to handle the menace of Derico Nwamama. 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 including lands belonging to all his family members. He got away with anything because even the police were scared of 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 Chinwoke 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 Derico Nwamama and seemed to be powerless and couldn’t do anything to bring him and his gang to justice. In May 2001, the Anambra State Police Command launched an operation against 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.
In December 2000, Derico and his gang committed the worst crime known to man till date! They attacked a 59-seater-Luxurious Bus filled with passengers at the popular Upper Iweka in Onitsha. 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 (that is Derico Nwamama) gave the orders and his men shot all the passengers and left them for dead! (Only 4 people survived the tragic 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. On Tuesday, July 3, 2001, Derico Nwamama 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 move, the nearest Bakassi member on the scene chopped off his left ear and that was how Derico Nwamama 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 because he was bleeding profusely. When news of his capture broke out, every single human being in Anambra State celebrated his capture 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 Nwamama 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, I am not. I trust Bakassi Boys. They are strong. Please, have mercy on me. Nobody can identify me as having robbed him or her. 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. 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.
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. 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. After his death a lot of movies about him was produced by Nollywood such as Issakaba, End of the River, Derico Nwamama and many more.