How Derico Nwamama Was Beheaded In 2001 (Throwback)

Okwudili Ndiwe, known as Derico Nwamama, was a notorious criminal who terrorized the South East between the late 90s and early 2000s. He was just 22 years old. Starting as a street urchin in Onitsha, he graduated to a pickpocket and then became a dreaded criminal. The mere mention of his name sent shivers down the spines of everyone in Igboland.

Derico rose to prominence after he killed his friend Chiejina, a cold-blooded armed robber who ruled the streets of Onitsha at that time. Their friendship began during the famous Umuleri/Aguleri War, but Derico was based in Abuja and only visited the East for robbery operations.

After Chiejina's death, Derico became the undisputed terror in the land. The entire Anambra State and its environs were in turmoil. Traders in Onitsha couldn't display their goods in peace, and people slept with one eye open. Derico raided banks in Onitsha, carting away millions of naira. Travelers passing through the state held their breath, expecting him to strike at any time.

According to reports, he killed over 200 people, including 25 police officers. He carried out countless bus robberies and didn't hesitate to shoot anyone. After his successful raids, he would boast and declare himself invincible. At some point, he used the town of Umuleri as his hideout.

In December 2000, Derico and his gang attacked a 59-seater luxury bus at the popular Upper Iweka. The bus was about to leave for Lagos. After robbing everyone on board, they decided to kill everybody (only 4 people survived).

This incident prompted Governor Mbadinuju to bring in the dreaded Bakassi Boys to help salvage the state and restore normalcy. On Tuesday, July 3, 2001, Derico was on a bus going from Agbor to Onitsha. When the bus reached the Onitsha axis of the Bridge Head, the Bakassi Boys stopped it. Sensing danger, he jumped through the window to run away, but before he could escape, a Bakassi member chopped off his left ear, capturing him.

When news of his capture broke, Anambra State was thrown into jubilation. On the 9th of July 2001, six days after his capture, the Bakassi Boys drove him around town in a convoy, Chanting war songs, and ended at the Ochanja Market Junction along the popular Upper Iweka Road in Onitsha.

Shouts of excitement and expectation filled the air. Many knew what was going to happen, so they all trooped to the spot to witness the action. He was dragged out from the bus, looking bruised and severely beaten, a trademark of the vigilante group. He was handed over a microphone and he began to beg for his life to be spared.

He said; “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.

His pleas fell on deaf ears as what followed was a cutlass to his neck and In a flash, Derico was beheaded. People who grew up in Onitsha would never forget him in a hurry. The Movies “Issakaba and Okochi” were inspired by this story.

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