Meet the first armed robber to be publicly executed in Nigeria

Mr Babatunde Folorunsho was killed alongside Joseph Ilobo and Williams Alders Oyazimo publicly in Bar Beach, Lagos.

Babatunde Folorunsho was a chronic armed robber and a hardened criminal who threatened the peace and security of Nigerians in the 1970’s with his group of bandits. He reigned almost the same time as the kingpin of Nigerian armed robbers, Ishola Oyenusi also known as Doctor rob and kill.

Babatunde Folorunsho was nicknamed ‘Baba oni lace‘ (Mr. Lace) because of his strong love for lace outfits which he even wore during robbery operations. During his reign, he topped the list of the most wanted criminals in Nigeria.

He was chased and hunted by the Nigerian police and local guards but all to no avail. During this time, crime rate in the country was at its peak in the country as a result of the civil war that had just ended.

Babatunde Folorunsho aka ‘Baba oni lace‘ (Mr. Lace) seemed invincible but unfortunately for him, he was caught by the police during a robbery operation on a fateful day in 1971.

He was charged with robbing one Mr. Alfred Marshall of a car. The whole nation was in jubilation as he was caught by the law.

On the 8th and 13th of April, 1971, Mr Babatunde Folorunsho was tried and found guilty of highway robbery. The judge, James Agboola Ojomo, sentenced him to death by firing squad.

24th of July, 1971. Thousands of Nigerians rushed to the popular Bar Beach in Lagos where the execution of Babatunde Folorunsho, Joseph Ilobo and Williams Alders was to take place. That was the first of its kind in Country.’

There was anxiety and excitement in the crowd as a lorry conveying the robbers landed at the execution ground,Bar Beach.

The robbers were in chains as they walked to the stakes , Mr Babatunde Folorunsho popularly known as ‘Baba oni lace‘ was dressed in lace . Mr Joseph Ilobo didn’t accept fate easily unlike Folorunsho, he protested till his last moment.

At a point execution, Joseph Ilobo looked at the crowd and said, “are all these people here to see me die? Ah! This is a wicked world. I have not committed any crime.” Mr Williams Alders Oyazimo was a sub-lieutenant in the Nigerian Navy. He protested his innocence in tears. He said, “if you search your conscience, you will know that a naval officer of my status will never go in the dead of the night to steal. I’ll die today, innocent of the crime for which I am condemned.”

Military chaplain, Col. Pedro Martins approached the robbers and asked them to pray for forgiveness but he said, “Father, I am innocent. My blood will cleanse my family and my children will prosper.” Oyazimo’s last words touched Nigerians. It was such a pathetic moment.

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