By Kola King
Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari was the poster boy of the Nigerian Police. Many regarded him as a supercop due to his many exploits in crime-fighting. He was the epitome of efficiency and effectiveness. He loomed large in the public consciousness as a result of his exploits in crime-fighting and crime-bursting. It was as though he was born to fight crime. No matter the complexity of the case, once Kyari was drafted to handle any such case, he would within a short time crack it and bring the culprits to heel. He had resolved many crime cases ranging from kidnapping to armed robbery that had defied the routine police investigations. He was a super cop who had the Midas touch. Little wonder the House of Representatives awarded him a special honour in recognition of his crime-busting exploits.
As a result of his daring exploits in crime-fighting, he had gained rapid promotion and was named head of the Intelligence Response Team, which is directly responsible to the Inspector General of Police. Even as head of the IRS, there had been whispering campaigns against his methods and there were several allegations leveled against him bordering on high-handedness, corruption, and cold-blooded murder. His admirers would not be bothered with all this, regarding it as part of the outcome expected in the line of duty. In general, all this was swept under the carpet because of his larger-than-life image as a crime fighter. Many ascribed all this grave allegations against Kyari to the handiwork of the corrupt and the guilty that were bent on bringing down a good cop.
But the arrest of the international fraudster Ramon Abbas by the FBI in Dubai, United Arab Emirate changed all that. This had put a question mark on Abba Kyari. Ramon Abbas, commonly known as Hushpuppi is a Nigerian Instagram celebrity who is facing criminal charges in the United States for conspiracy to launder money obtained from business email compromise frauds and other scams, including schemes that defrauded a US law firm of about $40 million, illegally transferred $14.7 million from a foreign financial institution, and targeted to steal $124 million from an English football club until his arrest by the Dubai Police in June 2020 and his extradition to the United States.
Indeed Hushpuppi’s arrest had opened up a can of worms, bringing Kyari to the spotlight for further scrutiny. The FBI had provided detailed records of phone conversations between Abba Kyari and Hushpuppi. WhatsApp posts between the two parties were also spilled into the open. In these messages, Hushpuppi had contacted Kyari to help him detain one of his accomplices and teach him the lesson of his life. Abba Kyari faithfully carried out Hushpuppi’s command. Indeed Kyari and his team also went the extra mile by extorting the accomplice of Hushpuppi. The culprit had to cough out millions of naira to regain his freedom. Besides, the FBI reported that Hushpuppi had transferred some sum of money to Kyari. Due to all this, the FBI had indicted Kyari and requested for his extradition to the United States for further questioning on cyber-related crimes for which Hushpuppi had been arrested and charged to court.
In his defense, Kyari had claimed that Hushpuppi had admired some of his dresses and requested that he help him get the same type of dresses sown by his tailor. Thus he claimed money sent to his account was meant for his tailor in Abuja who sewed dresses for the international fraudster. He claimed he only served as a conduit for the money transfer to the tailor. As a result of this weighty allegation against Kyari, he was suspended by the Police authorities, and investigation commenced to determine the level of his involvement with the international fraudster, with a view to recommending him for extradition to the US as demanded by the FBI. As the nation reeled from this odious scandal involving a high-profile police officer, everyone waited with bated breath for the police to conclude its investigations on Kyari and hand him over to the FBI.
In the process of this interminable police investigation, then came the bombshell revelation from the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) that Abba Kyari was allegedly involved with a drug ring that operates between Brazil, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. According to NDLEA spokesman Femi Babafemi, Abba Kyari had requested a deal on drugs shipped to Nigeria and had asked for assistance from an NDLEA operative. The operative informed the authorities at the agency who encouraged him to play along with Abba Kyari. Along the way, a sting operation was planned which eventually caught Kyari in the NDLEA net. He has since been arrested by the police and handed over to the NDLEA. In addition to all these, large sums of money have been traced to his younger brother’s account, believed to have been transferred by suspected cybercriminals.
Though there have been conspiracy theories that Kyari’s arrest was stage-managed to prevent his extradition to the United States. Besides the initial investigations by the police were rejected by the Police Service Commission and the commission had directed the Police to do a more thorough job. It is also important to note that the Attorney General had told reporters last week that a prima-facie case had been established against Kyari and that the government was not averse to extraditing him to the US.
Meanwhile, the Police Service Commission (PSC) has directed the Force headquarters to constitute another panel of inquiry to investigate the FBI indictment allegations against the Officer, following its rejection of the earlier investigation report on the alleged involvement of suspended IRT Commander, DCP Abba Kyari in the $1.1million internet scam perpetrated by internet fraudster, Ramon Abass aka Hushpuppi,
The directive to the Police Force headquarters followed the deferment of the final decision by the commission on the grounds of the legal advice from the Attorney General of the Federation to the effect that “there’s a prima facie case but the evidence adduced by the former investigation panel cannot be used to convict Kyari in any court.”
This was contained in a statement signed by Ikechukwu Ani, Head of Press and Public Relations of the PSC.
“The Commission also directed that further necessary investigation should take half the time it took the Police to conduct the original investigation and that the investigation should be carried out by a different panel.”
The latest news report says Kyari had been recommended for demotion to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police. However, the police authorities said the investigations on the Kyari case were ongoing and that the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) had yet to submit its report.
Most of all Abba Kyari phenomenon speaks to the monumental problems that bedevil some of our security agencies. Some of these institutions are loosely run without effective oversight of personnel. Kyari was the personification of overzealousness matched with greed and hubris. Here is a cop who rose very fast in his career. He was saddled with very important duties. But it appears there were no oversight mechanisms put in place to reign in his excesses. There were several complaints against Kyari and his team but the police authorities chose to turn a deaf ear to all those complaints. Now with allegations bordering on a toxic mix of drugs and cybercrime, Kyari has not only brought odium and shame upon his head but the police had also unwittingly been smeared since it granted him free rein without adequate checks and balances.
Finally, Abba Kyari loved to hug the limelight. He had his sights on the main prize. During the course of his crime-fighting, he had a penchant for taking media camera crew in tow to record his exploits in the field. Many police officers found this conduct unprofessional and described it as self-seeking. Without a doubt, there were many tales of deering-do by the super cop in the line of duty, because of this he won the hearts of many Nigerians. Now Nigerians are left gasping and breathless with the lurid tales of Kyari coming out of the NDLEA. Even if he’s convicted for drug-related offenses by the court, Kyari after serving his time in Nigeria will still have his day in the US court to prove his innocence or otherwise in cybercrime. It’s hard to imagine that the unfolding saga is not from the imaginations of a great crime writer. But this is not fiction, but a real fact. Kyari is one good cop gone rogue.
In a related development, police investigations have revealed how members of a syndicate led by an international fraudster, Ramon Abass, popularly known as Hushpuppi paid N235, 120, 000 to a younger brother of a former Commander, Intelligence Response Team, Abba Kyari
The probe also indicates that Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, equally funnelled N44m to his brother’s bank account in multiple transactions.
However, the investigation report obtained by the Punch failed to disclose whether Kyari’s brother was acting as a proxy for his embattled elder brother who is currently in the custody of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
The DCP, who was suspended by the police last July for his alleged links to Hushpuppi, allegedly attempted to sell part of the cocaine which was seized from some drug dealers in Enugu, while he was on suspension.
The investigation report which was submitted to the Attorney-General of the Federation disclosed that a total of N279.120m flowed to the younger Kyari’s bank account at various times from the cyber scam syndicate members-Efe Martins (lead coordinator), Sikiru Adekoya, Usman Ibrahim, and Hussaini Ala.
It stated, “Sikiru Adekoya has many times received money from Hushpuppi and Efe and has equally transferred money to Usman Ibrahim. Adekoya after the initial denial of having any financial transaction with both Hushpuppi and Efe Martins eventually admitted receiving various sums of money through transfers into his GTBank.
‘’However, he could not offer reasonable explanations of what the sums were meant for and what he did with the monies. The network of Hushpuppi Internet fraud syndicate consists of Efe Martins as the lead coordinator who through his company, Efe Martins Integrated Concept Ltd., has at various times transferred different sums of money to Sikiru Adekoya, Usman Waziri Ibrahim, Hussaini Ala.
“A junior brother to DCP Kyari is a major beneficiary of funds from the Zenith Bank account of Hussaini Ala from where he at different times received various sums totaling N218, 120, 000. He also received the sum of N44m in multiple transactions from DCP Abba Kyari.’’
He was taken into custody by the NDLEA alongside four officers after he was indicted for dealing drugs by the police.
His accomplices include Sunday Ubuah, ASP Bawa James, Inspector Simon Agrigba, and John Nuhu. Another officer, ASP John Umoru, is said to be at large.
Curiously, the Special Investigation Panel which authored the report did not invite or interrogate Kyari’s brother about the huge sums of money deposited into his bank account by the fraud syndicate and the DCP.
In its recommendations, the Force Disciplinary Committee (FDC) which reviewed the SIP investigation report indicted Kyari for violating the social media policy of the Nigeria Police Force by responding to the Federal Bureau of Intelligence’s indictment on his Facebook page without recourse to laid down procedures.
Committee accuses Kyari of hobnobbing with fraudulent characters, violating the police professional ethics
For hobnobbing with fraudulent characters and violating the police professional ethics, the committee recommended the punishment of reduction in rank for Kyari from DCP to ACP, stating that “the evidence of (N8mn) bribe is circumstantial in that the bribe mainly was not paid into the officer’s account nor was any proceeds of the bribe traced by the panel much less linking the officer to any such proceeds.’’
The FDC further said there was no evidence of direct fund transfer from either Hushpuppi or Efe into any of Kyari’s accounts “but there were records of various funds transfers totaling N17m which originated from Efe Martins into the accounts of Usman Waziri, Hussaini Ala and brother to DCP Kyari.”
Meanwhile, the force has intensified investigations into Kyari’s links to criminal gangs and alleged involvement in money laundering as directed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Malami had in his legal advice to the police leadership said a prima facie case of money laundering had been established against the former IRT commander.
The advice read in part, “That there exists a prima facie case of conspiracy, collaboration, receipt, conversion, transfer and/or retention of proceeds of unlawful activities contrary to the provision of Section 15, 17 & 18 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and Section 17 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Est) Act, Cap EI Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 against DCP Abba Kyari and other suspects in view of the overwhelming evidence showing the nature of his disguised financial transactions and activities with Abbas Hushpuppi, Efe Martins, Usman Ibrahim Waziri, Sikiru Adekoya, Hussaini Ala and Sharon Festus who are all confirmed members of international internet fraud network.
“Although the facts and circumstances of this case as contained in the case file are suggestive to money laundering offences against DCP Abba Kyari and his accomplices namely: Abbas Hushpuppi, Efe Martins, Usman Ibrahim Waziri, Sikiru Adekoya, Hussaini Ala and Sharon Festus; in order to successfully prosecute them, there is a need for a more thorough dissecting and tracing of the suspected 33 proceeds of crime received by DCP Abba Kyari directly or indirectly through the said accomplices.”
The AGF also ordered the police to trace the movement of money, withdrawals from the various accounts linked to Kyari and his suspected accomplices as well as the use of the funds in purchasing physical assets and properties in order to clearly expose ‘’the disguised nature of the suspected proceeds of crime.’’