The De-construction Of Abba Kyari: A Super Cop Gone Rogue?

Hushpuppi: Police Service Commission Suspends Abba Kyari

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Alhaji Kyari has dominated media spaces since early Thursday, when reports emerged of his dealings with an alleged international fraudster, Ramon Abbas, famously known as Hushpuppi.

Hushpuppi, an internet celebrity, who became famous for his penchant for flaunting his expensive and luxurious lifestyle on his Instagram page, is currently standing trial in the United States of America. He has also reportedly pleaded guilty to charges bordering on fraud and money laundering before the US District Court for the Central District of California.

On the other hand, Abba Kyari became famous for his crime fighting exploits, especially as it concerns notorious and hardened criminals terrorising different parts of the country through armed robbery and kidnapping.

As a former Officer-in-Charge of the now disbanded notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad {SARS}, Kyari made headlines on account of his effectiveness in tackling serious violent crimes, and when he was moved to his current position as the leader of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team, Kyari had vast jurisdiction across the country, as his coverage area was not limited to any state or area.

Coupled with enormous powers bestowed on the team to tackle crimes, Kyari progressively evolved with a somewhat larger than life image as a super cop doing a yeoman’s job in a much vilified police force.

And if truth must be told, Kyari was good on his job, at least the cases he was able to tackle and the hardened criminals his team apprehended are eloquent testimonies to that. Also worth mentioning are the numerous awards he has to his name as a highly decorated and celebrated officer.

All the above may have, however, disappeared overnight due to the current controversies and indictment by the US court against him.

It is no longer news that Kyari was indicted, as evidenced by US court documents for allegedly receiving money from Hushpuppi in consideration for arresting and detaining an associate of the alleged fraudster, Chibuzo Vincent, over disagreements occasioned by a fraud scheme for which Hushpuppi and four others are standing trial.

“Court documents outline a dispute among members of the conspiracy, which allegedly prompted Vincent to contact the victim and claim that Abbas and Juma were engaged in fraud. After this contact, Abbas allegedly arranged to have Vincent jailed in Nigeria by Abba Alhaji Kyari, 46, of Nigeria.

“According to the affidavit, Kyari is a highly decorated deputy commissioner of the Nigeria Police Force who is alleged to have arranged for Vincent to be arrested and jailed at Abbas’ behest, and then sent Abbas photographs of Vincent after his arrest. Kyari also allegedly sent Abbas bank account details for an account into which Abbas could deposit payment for Vincent’s arrest and imprisonment”, the indictment stated.

Though Kyari made an attempt to exonerate himself from any dealings with Hushpuppi, admitting that the detained suspected fraudster only contacted his office to lay complaints about threat to life, a 64-page document endorsed by the FBI and a judge, may have effectively put a lie to Kyari’s explanation. The document, showing a painstaking investigation, has details of exchange of messages, phone numbers and photographs between the DCP and the suspected fraudster, painting a picture of a well oiled relationship and not just that of a complainant and a law enforcement agent.

For many Nigerians on social media, Kyari’s explanation was not just lame but an attempt to pull wool over the faces of the vast majority of citizens, who received the news with shock; just as they described his rebuttal as weak.

Commenting on the rebuttal, one Oluwa Dare, wrote on Kyari’s verified Facebook page: “Yeah, right. You helped him ‘buy clothes’. You must think everyone is dumb. You as a police officer should know that won’t fly. 2019 was just one year before he was arrested and there have been question marks about him before then. Anyways, if you are an honorable man, you should resign and go clear your name in the US if you’re that sure you are not part of his organization by being the ‘muscle’ he used to intimidate people back in Nigeria.”

For Felix Uroko, it was time Kyari stepped down for the allegation to be properly investigated.

He said: “In a sane clime, you would step aside for proper investigation; coming to the social media to try and defend yourself is total rubbish”, while Abdulwaheed Dauda said: “At the mention of your name by Hushpuppi, my first reaction was to dismiss it as one of the kicks of the dying horse. Moreover, I would have denied the rebuttal, if it was from the page of another person. However, since it’s coming from you, it is rather too weak and left too much room for suspicions. Your response evoked much more questions than you attempted to clarify. I know for certainty, we have not seen the end of this case, but I pray you come out with unscathed image.”

Thankfully and luckily for Kyari, the Nigerian Police Force, which many see and weak, docile and always unwilling to take on any of its own, especially a top one like him, came out also on Thursday evening with a statement that the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba has ordered a review of the indictment process it received from the Federal Bureau of Investigation {FBI}. Admirers of the super cop can only wish for a favourable outcome of the review.

But before the current controversy, Kyari has been involved in some others, though they have continued to be suppressed, according to reports.

The National Human Rights Commission {NHRC} and the international rights group, Amnesty International, had in separate petitions, accused Abba Kyari’s Intelligence Response Team of gross human rights abuses and illegal expropriation of suspected proceeds of crime.

The NHRC said in an October 2018 petition to then-Inspector-General Ibrahim Idris that the the IRT, led by Kyari, had been illegally depleting the asset of Collins Ezenwa, a suspected kidnapper who was gunned down in January 2018.

It would be recalled that the police in Imo State accused Mr Ezenwa, a former police corporal, of leading a syndicate of deadly abductors. He was killed during an exchange of gunfire along Enugu-Owerri Expressway.

Though the NHRC disputed the account of the police on how Mr Ezenwa was killed in its petition to Idris, the focus of the petition was how the IRT, led by Kyari has been depleting Ezenwa’s properties and assets without any court order.

Also, Amnesty International, in its own petition, accused Kyari and his team of victimising Gift Ezenwa, the deceased’s widow, and other members of the family, while also depleting the properties he left behind without any court order whatsoever.

According to Damian Ugwu, a researcher with Amnesty International, IRT personnel started aiming for Mr Ezenwa’s properties immediately after they took over the case from the Imo State police command.

Because of their unlimited powers in the police, they dubiously took over the case from Imo State command and started identifying possible assets of Mr Ezenwa shortly after he was killed,” Mr Ugwu said. “They threw his wife and infant son out of some of his properties, including his hotel, and started collecting rents from them.”

In the same vein, a Lagos based businessman, Afeez Mojeed accused Kyari of extorting over N41 million from him.

According Mojeed, the extortion, was done in 2014 when Kyari was officer in charge of the now disbanded special anti-robbery squad (SARS) in Lagos.

In a series of petitions between 2016 and 2018, Mojeed sought justice through the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), but to no avail.

In another petition filed on October 22, 2020, through Salawu Akingbolu & Co, Mojeed’s counsel, and addressed to the 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.

“They forcefully took his wedding ring and that of his wife from them, opened their wardrobe and took the sum N280,000 and the sum of N50,000 was also taken from his car, after which the Honda Accord (2008) model was seized and taken away till today,” the petition read.

Phones, landed properties, cheque books, bank cards and other valuable documents were also allegedly taken from his house.

Kyari and his men were also said to have taken Mojeed office in Ikeja where he was detained for 14 days– from October 18 to October 31, 2014, after which he was later “arraigned on a trump-up charge” of stealing N97 million. However, for over one year the matter was in court, the police “never showed up or brought any witness”. The case was struck out eventually.

The petitioners also alleged that while in detention, “the police under the supervision and threat of Abba Kyari (OC SARS) forced him to sign three Zenith Bank cheques in the sum of N150,000 each making N450,000 in total on October 22 – 23, 2014 and gave the sum to one Alabi Olawale Nurudeen who is also one of their cronies to withdraw”.

It was also alleged that the police obtained password to his bank card with which they withdrew another N395,000 from his account between October 20 to 23, 2014.

To cap it up, allegedly on the directive of Kyari, Mojeed was taken by “one Inspector Fola, Corporal Bolu and Corporal Akeem to Diamond Bank, Ajah branch on October 23 and 24, 2014 to forcefully transfer the sum of 41 Million and N800, 000 respectively from his corporate account {M. Mateen Concepts} into the account of one Obinna Edward, whom our client had never seen or heard of before, after which they shared the money.

“All these acts perpetrated on our client were exhibited with serious injuries inflicted on him due to a series of slaps and beatings for them to get access to his ATM password, signature on cheques and also transfer from his account”, the petition further stated.

Mojeed’s counsel also disclosed that he confronted Kyari in his then office in Ikeja on why he would seize his money and properties without a court order, but Kyari reportedly said he had kept the money as an exhibit.

“But till date, they have not released any of the items to him including his car which we got information had been taken away by Abba Kyari,” the petition added.

Though these and other allegations against Kyari are yet to be exhaustively dealt with by those petitioned, the Deputy Commissioner of Police seems to have assumed a form of notoriety and a boastful arrogance that’s only possible in this part of the world, where public officials see citizens as conquered people who they can push about and lord over without consequence.

Kyari seeming over bloated ego and assumed invincibility also came to the fore in the now discredited rebuttal he posted on his verified Facebook page. Kyari will do well for himself, if he allows the law to take its natural course, clear his name of any complicity, that’s if he has nothing to hide. Afterall, it is said that only the guilty are afraid

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