By Kola King
For commentators and political observers, events move at such a frenetic pace that it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of events as they unfold with the rapidity of machine gunfire. Indeed it’s a curious world of people, politics, and power, and as they say, a day is a long time in politics. The previous week was full of drama and magic. Out of nowhere, news hit the airwaves that the federal government had approved a request to extradite the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari to the United States based on a request by the US based Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
But what makes the Kyari case more intriguing is the fact that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has filed charges of illegal dealing in cocaine against the police officer and five accomplices at the Federal High Court, Abuja. The NDLEA filed the charges against Kyari on February 28. On the other hand, the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami began proceedings against Kyari on March 3. Many Nigerians are wondering which of the two separate cases will take precedence over the other. Would Kyari be handed over to the FBI to answer the case of cybercrime and money laundering or would the NDLEA proceed with the charges of drug dealing against the senior police officer? Both the Attorney General and the NDLEA ought to provide clarity on this intriguing case.
Without a doubt, the police authorities had been tardy over the case of Kyari, which created the impression that he was above the law. Besides police investigation into the matter was interminable and many were of the impression that the case would be swept under the carpet as usual. The FBI made a request for Kyari’s extradition over seven months ago, yet the police authorities continued to play fast and loose with the investigation into allegations levelled against Abba Kyari.
But things took a dramatic turn as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency announced that Kyari had been involved with a drug ring that operates between Brazil, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested by the police and handed over to the NDLEA. Kyari and five other police officers are undergoing interrogation by the NDLEA over a cocaine deal. Already, the agency has filed six charges against the police officer and five others at the Federal High Court.
However, what is baffling to the ordinary man in the street is the speed with which the NDLEA acted, which contrasts sharply with the tardiness and dilatoriness of the police authorities in the ongoing investigation into the activities of Abba Kyari. In fact, the Police Service Commission headed by former Inspector General of Police, Mr Musiliu Smith had to redirect the police to reopen the ongoing investigations since the initial report submitted by the police authorities cannot stand up to scrutiny.
It will be recalled that a grand jury, last April 29, filed an indictment against Kyari with the approval of the US District Court for the Central District of California. The charges for his extradition were filed by the Attorney General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami in the Federal High Court, Abuja. Kyari is wanted to stand trial for conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, and identity theft. He was accused of conspiring with a United Arab Emirates (UAE) based Nigerian, Ramon Abbas commonly known as Hushpuppi, to commit the crime.
Last Thursday, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), filed an application before the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja for Kyari’s extradition.
The AGF said the application followed a request by the Diplomatic Representative of the U.S. Embassy in Abuja.
It is “for the surrender of Abba Alhaji Kyari, who is a subject in a superseding three counts indictment”.
In the affidavit filed in support of the extradition application, the AGF stated that he was satisfied that provision is made by the laws of the U.S. such that so long as Kyari has not had a reasonable opportunity of returning to Nigeria, he will not be detained or tried for any offence committed before his surrender other than the extradition offence which can be proved by the fact on offense is surrender is sought.
He added that he was satisfied that the offence in respect of which Kyari’s surrender is sought is not political nor is it trivial.
The AGF also expressed satisfaction that the request for the surrender of Kyari was not made to persecute or punish him on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions but in good faith and the interest of justice.
He added that Kyari, “if surrendered, will not be prejudiced at his trial and will not be punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty, by reason of his race, nationality or political opinions”.
The AGF said having regard to all the circumstances in which the offence was committed, it will not be unjust or oppressive, or be too severe a punishment, to surrender him.
Malami said he was also satisfied that Kyari has been accused of the offence for which his surrender is sought.
He noted that there was no criminal proceeding pending against Kyari in Nigeria for the same offence.
According to court documents, the three count-charge marked: 2:21-cr-00203-RGK, was filed on April 29, 2021, before the US District Court for the Central District of California, USA.
The charge filed along with the extradition application, sighted by The Nation, reads:
• Count one: Conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years;
• Count two: Conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 1956(h), carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
• Count three: Aggravated identity theft, and aiding and abetting that offence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A(a)(1) and 2(a), carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of two years.
In the request for Kyari’s extradition, the U.S. Embassy stated: “On April 29, 2021, based on the indictment filed by the grand jury and with the approval of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, a deputy clerk of the court issued a warrant of arrest for Kyari.
“The arrest warrant remains valid and executable to apprehend Kyari for the crimes with which he is charged in the indictment.
“Kyari is wanted to stand trial in the United States for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and identity theft.
UPDATED: Cocaine Deal: NDLEA charges Abba Kyari, six others
The National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has charged Abba Kyari, a suspended deputy commissioner of police, and six others with offences of illegal cocaine dealing.
The agency announced via its Twitter handle on Thursday that it filed the charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, February 28.
This came as the Attorney-General of the Federation began the move to extradite Mr Kyari to the United States over separate charges of fraud.
Last week news broke that the AGF had filed an application for Mr Kyari’s extradition following a request for him by the U.S. authorities.
U.S. authorities had last year named Mr Kyari among five alleged conspirators of Ramon Abass a.k.a Hushpuppi, an Instagram celebrity, in a $1.1 million fraud perpetrated against a Qatari businessperson.
While Mr Kyari was still on suspension over the fraud allegation, the NDLEA announced in February that he had been fingered in an illegal cocaine dealing.
The anti-narcotic agency, on February 22, 2022, obtained an order from the Federal High Court in Abuja to detain him and his co-suspects for two weeks.
Mr Kyari who filed a N500 million rights enforcement suit against the NDLEA, denied involvement in the illegal drugs dealing and describe the allegation as fictitious.
Kyari and his co-defendants
The NDLEA, last Monday, filed eight charges against Mr Kyari and his six co-defendants at the Federal High Court in Abuja, accusing them of illegal dealing in cocaine between January 19 and 25, 2022.
Four of Mr Kyari’s co-defendants are said to be police officers belonging to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), a police unit that was being led by Mr Kyari until he was suspended following the charges filed against him in the U.S. last year.
The four IRT operatives charged along with Mr Kyari are: Sunday J. Ubua, an assistant commissioner of police; Bawa James, an assistant superintendent of police; Simon Agirgba, an inspector; John Nuhu, also an inspector.
The other co-defendants are Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne.
NDLEA’s Director of Legal Services, Joseph Sunday, signed the charges, noting than the various offences are contrary to and punishable under various provisions of the NDLEA Act.
The agency accused Mr Kyari and the IRT members of unlawfully dealing with and tampering with cocaine.
The prosecutors also accused Mr Kyari, in a count which features only him as the sole defendant, of attempting to obstruct the NDLEA and its authorized officers by offering $61,400 to a senior anti-narcotic operative as inducement to prevent the testing of the 17.55kg of cocaine.
The two non-police officers among the defendants – Messrs Umeibe and Ezenwanne – were accused of conspiring with others at large, and importing 21.35kg of cocaine into the Nigeria.