By Job Osazuwa, Chioma Okezie-Okeh And Timothy Olanrewaju
Abba Kyari Deputy Commissioner of Police and the Head, Nigerian Inspector General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT) is a fearless and gallant officer. The lanky officer has cracked many unrepentant criminals and returned peace to many troubled communities across Nigeria. Looking at him, one might be tempted to hastily conclude that the man cannot hurt a fly, but his appearance sharply contradicts his bravery while discharging his duties.
The police chief is also smart and he leverages on cutting-edge technology to terrorise criminals and give them a bloody nose. And he doesn’t hesitate in celebrating the feat on his social media handles. On many occasions, Nigerians have tipped him as the Inspector-General of Police in-waiting.
Kyari is at the moment in the eye of the storm. He is enmeshed in a financial scandal. The revelation, as already in the news, is his unfashionable link with the nabbed serial internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas, more commonly known as Hushpuppi, and his co-conspirators.
The fraud suspect claimed to have paid bribe to Kyari to arrest one of his ‘business ‘partners’ in a $1.1million deal.
In fact, a United States district court has ordered Kyari’s arrest in the alleged dirty deals with Hushpuppi and others. Otis Wright of the United States District Court for the Central District of California ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track down Kyari and produce him in the U.S, for his role in large-scale international fraud.
Since the news broke, the various social media platforms have been thrown into a frenzy. Many posers have been raised over the issue on the social media court, while appropriate answers appear not to be in sight.
Many people still find it difficult to believe that one of the most celebrated and finest in the Nigeria Police Force is being dragged in the mud by the international community. To them, it still appears like a wrongly scripted movie that need to be discarded without a second thought. Their reason and disbelief of the allegation is not unconnected with the fact that Kyari was seen as the new face of the police’s battered image.
But for other keen observers, even without waiting for a full-scale investigation into the matter, Kyari is already being lampooned both home and abroad.
The FBI also indicted Kyari for allegedly receiving bribes from Hushpuppi to arrest a member of the syndicate in Nigeria. If found guilty of the allegation, Kyari may be jailed for 20 years.
Hushpuppi, who was arrested in Dubai in June last year, has pleaded guilty to the fraud charges in the U.S. The FBI said Hushpuppi and Kyari, both of whom it alleged had been friends, conspired to launder money.
But Kyari has swiftly denied the allegation. He said that those celebrating the allegations by the internet fraudster against him would be disappointed and put to shame.
Said he: “Friends: Abbas, who we later came to know as Hushpuppi, called our office about two years ago that somebody seriously threatened to kill his family here in Nigeria, and he sent the person’s phone number and pleaded we take action before the person attacks his family. We traced and arrested the suspect and after investigations, we discovered there wasn’t an actual threat to anyone’s life, and they were long time friends who had money issues, hence, we released the suspect on bail.
“Nobody demanded a kobo from Abbas Hushpuppi. Our focus was to save people’s lives that were purported to have been threatened. “Later, he saw some of my native clothes and caps on my social media page and said he liked them. He was connected to the person selling the clothes and he sent about N300, 000 directly to the person’s account. The native clothes and caps (five sets) were brought to our office and he sent somebody to collect them in our office.
“Nobody demanded any money from Abbas Hushpuppi and nobody collected any money from him. This is the true story. Vincent is alive, he can be contacted.”
Among those who have heavily descended on Kyari is the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA). Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, has ordered an investigation into the alleged indictment by the FBI, against Kyari.
DCP Abba Kyari became a household name when he took over as the officer in-charge of Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), Lagos State from 2010 to 2015. He fought armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes in Lagos State to a standstill and brought an end to the reign of likes of notorious South-West robbery czar, Abiodun Ogunjobi, aka, Godogodo. Godogodo was responsible for the death of over 500 innocent Nigerians and Police Officers.
From SARS Lagos, he was made officer-in-charge of IGP Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and his tremendous achievement led to the House of Representatives on June 11, 2020 to host him as a mark of honour for his exceptional work in the fight against criminality across the country.
Some of his exploits include the arrest of Nigeria’s most notorious kidnap kingpin Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a.k.a Evans in Lagos State and his gang members.
He also arrested the killers of former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Air Marshal Alex Badeh along Keffi-Gitata Kaduna Road, arrest of the most wanted Boko-Haram Commander, Umar Abdulmalik and eight of his terrorists’ gang members,
He captured the most deadly kidnapper in the history of Nigeria, Henry Chibueze aka “Vampire” in Owerri, Imo State and his gang members. He also arrested the deadly Offa bank robbers that invaded Offa town, Kwara State and robbed five commercial banks. The gang also murdered over 31 innocent Nigerians making it the deadliest bank robberies in the history of Nigeria. His IRT led team also nabbed the terrorist responsible for the bombing of Kuje and Nyanya towns of Abuja and recovery of primed bombs in the FCT and those responsible for the kidnap of two Americans and two Canadians in Kaduna State. Others are the arrest of more than 15 different gangs of kidnappers totalling over 300 kidnappers and recovery of over 200 AK47 rifles and other dangerous weapons used in terrorizing Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Highways.
Also the arrest of the kidnappers of CBN Governor’s wife in Delta State, Sierra Leonian Deputy High Commissioner in Kaduna State, former Minister of Finance Okonjo Iweala’s Mother in Delta State, elder statesman Chief Olu Falae in Ondo State and Oniba of Iba a first class King in Lagos State.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time Kyari, is being dragged in the web of financial scandals and controversies. In October 2020, a businessman, Afeez Mojeed, petitioned the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry investigating the disbanded police unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad, where he alleged that in 2014, Kyari, who was the Officer-in-Charge of SARS in Lagos, detained him for 14 days and extorted him of millions of naira. In a petition filed on October 22, 2020, through Salawu Akingbolu & Co, Mojeed’s counsel, and addressed to the newly formed judicial panel of inquiry and restitution for victims of SARS-related abuses in Lagos, Kyari and his officers were accused of forcefully taking about 32 items from Mojeed’s house during a raid in 2014.
Also, in a report by an online newspaper on January 21, 2019, Kyari’s team was accused of taking over multi-billion naira properties of a suspected kidnapper who was killed by the police in January 2018.
The Nigerian Human Rights Commission said in an October 2018 petition to the then Inspector-General, Ibrahim Idris, that the IRT, led by Abba Kyari, was illegally depleting the asset of Collins Ezenwa, a suspected kidnapper. The dreaded officer had said that Ezenwa was a notorious kidnapper who had committed many crimes before he was killed during an exchange of gunfire along Enugu-Owerri Expressway. Kyari and his team members were said to have taken over Ezenwa’s properties worth billions of naira.
His case, political–Kinsmen
Meanwhile, his kinsmen in Maiduguri are insisting that Kyari’s case is political, adding that he would be vindicated at the appropriate time.
“Why is this coming now? It is all politics and Allah will make everything open at the appointed time,” Mohammed Musa who lives few metres to Kyari’s family house told Saturday Sun in Maiduguri. A septuagenarian Ba’ Garba, Abba Kyari’s neighbour described the police officer as generous. “He is a good man. He doesn’t come here regularly but each time he comes, he shares things including money to our people here,” he said.