Let me begin by saying that no one is perfect. As mere mortals, we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. Let no one rejoice over the travails of Abba Kyari. Knowing our society, what happened to him could have happened to any public officer.
My thoughts and prayers go to him. The much I knew of Abba Kyari was generally from the media. By the media projection, I came close to admiring him as a super crime buster, such that you read from crime stories or see in the movies.
Some of the high profile cases he solved include the arrest of Nigeria’s most notorious Billionaire kidnapper, alias ‘Evans’ and his gang members; arrest of the killers of the former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh; arrest of the most wanted Boko Haram Commander, Umar Adulmalik and his gang members; arrest of 22 Boko Haram members responsible for the kidnap of the Chibok girls in 2014; captured the most deadly kidnapper in Nigeria history, Henry Chibuzo alias ‘Vampire’ and his gang members in Owerri; arrested the deadly Offa Bank robbers that invaded Offa town in Kwara State raiding five banks in a swoop and killing 31 civilians, making it the deadliest bank robbery in Nigeria history; arrest of the terrorist responsible for the bombing of Kuje and Nyanya towns and recovery of primed bombs in FCT; arrest of the most notorious armed robber in the South West known as ‘Godogodo;’ arrest of the kidnappers of Turkish school girls in Lagos and Oyo State; arrest of Halti Bello and 20 members of his gang who were the most notorious kidnappers in Kogi State. The list of his achievements is endless. He was simply good at his job and those who knew him up-close describe him as a fine gentleman who loves his job.
For his exploits, he received various awards such as the Best Detective Award of the Year 2018; the Best Police Officer of the Decade Award; 2018 Hero of the Year Award; Presidential Medal of Courage 2016; Triple IGP Commendation Medal of Courage 2012, 2013, 2014; Triple Lagos State Governors Award for Gallantry; Best Anti-Crime Police Officer in West Africa from Security Watch Africa and the list of recognitions goes on.
Among his colleagues, he was highly respected. He had an exciting career with lots of prospects. There were even speculations that he is being primed for the topmost police job, but suddenly everything came crashing or so it appears.
Abba’s crash took the nation unawares. What has become his albatross wasn’t his ruthlessness with violent criminals but an unholy relationship with a white-collar criminal named Ramon Abbas alias ‘Hushpuppi’ now being prosecuted in the United States for fraud, money laundering and other related offences.
According to reports, Hushpuppi had set up a fraudulent business deal to swindle a Qatari of some millions of dollars. Along the line greed took better part of him as he short-changed his co-conspirator called Kelly Chibuzor. Kelly in turn ratted on Hushpuppi to the Qatari, thus infuriating Hushpuppi. Angry Hushpuppy contacted Abba Kyari whom he has come to befriend to help him punish Kelly by arresting and incarcerating him. Abba Kyari obliged his friend and got Kelly arrested. Kelly was detained for a month before being released.
Abba Kyari confirmed that Hushpuppi contacted his office and reported a case of threat to life of himself and his family by Kelly. From the above admission it’s factual that Abba Kyari is familiar with Hushpuppi for him to act on his complaint by a mere phone call. The big question is: ‘Is it possible that Abba Kyari knew Hushpuppi as a con artist and a fraudster?’ It can be argued that he was unaware of Hushpuppi’s source of livelihood, since Hushpuppi is based overseas and may have all the while represented himself as a successful international businessman. Abba Kyari’s case should be a lesson to many police officers who expose themselves to people whose character they can’t vouch for. Ninety-nine per cent of our law officers and men are as guilty as Mr Abba Kyari.
Back to the issue of Hushpuppi. Abba Kyari had admitted in his first public statement that Hushpuppy sent N300, 000 to a tailor he recommended after Hushpuppi expressed interest in some local outfits he saw on Kyari’s social media page. Again, this is possible. Most people had met tailors from referrals.
But let’s assume for the sake of argument without conceding that actually Hushpuppi paid bribe money of N300, 000 to Abba Kyari to enable Kyari mobilise his men for the purpose of arresting Kelly Chibuzo with whom Hushpuppi had a financial and business dispute. The habit of asking petitioners money to mobilise for an arrest may be strange to the Americans, but it’s a tradition here. Anyone who has had anything to do with the police, even if you had just reported your next-door neighbour, knows that the police will not lift a finger except you advance some payment. The rot is deep.
I challenge any officer in Nigeria who has never been involved in such bribe money to cast the first stone. It’s good that the Americans are probing the issue and perhaps helping us reshape our law enforcement institutions. However, I take exception to the American approach to the issue, especially the utterances of the FBI. The FBI should note that Nigeria is not a sub-state of the United States. The crime in question is Hushpuppi’s crime and not Abba Kyari’s crime. The most that will be expected of Abbah Kyari is to testify as a witness. Anything outside this is bullying and unacceptable.
We are a sovereign state and there are diplomatic channels that should have been explored by the US before going nuclear on the issue. I don’t think all those diplomatic channels were explored and exploited as there were no Nigerian Embassy representation nor the US representation to Nigeria on the matter. I will encourage the Federal Government to engage the United States on this score at the highest level and also file a representation before the Californian court in the interest of protecting our national sovereignty.
More so we have enough municipal laws to try Abba Kyari here in Nigeria if indeed he violated the law. We must not extradite him to the United States just because the United States is unhappy. We must learn to protect our citizens and make our citizenship worthy of respect. Will America under any circumstances extradite an American to Nigeria? They will rather try their citizens according to the United States justice system.
The IGP has taken the right step by setting up an investigating panel to probe into the weighty allegations against Mr. Kyari. The Police Service Commission has also done the right thing by suspending him from the force to allow unfettered investigation. That’s due process. The current mob and media lynching should stop. Mr. Kyari should not be denied his presumptive right of innocence until proven guilty by a competent court. More so, we cannot use this one singular act of indiscretion to judge his entire meritorious career and ruin him forever. We must not be in a hurry to throw him under the bus simply because we love to kick a brother that is down and sell our country short.
Abba’s sin, if I should call it a sin, is a sin all our police officers are guilty of. I challenge any officer without this guilt to cast the first stone. My prayer is that the gentleman who has served this country with all his heart shall triumph in the end and that his current travail will serve as a lesson to all our men in uniform who must serve with honour, dignity and integrity.