Abba Kyari, the deputy commissioner of police, is in dire straits. The celebrated police officer has now been embroiled in the cyber fraud case against Hushpuppi, the embattled Nigerian socialite who — according to a US court filing —accused him of taking a bribe to arrest an associate.
Hushpuppi, whose real name is Ramon Abbas, was infamously arrested in the UAE in June 2020 alongside 11 of his associates over allegations bordering on hacking, impersonation, scamming, bank fraud, and identity theft.
His extradition to the US came after the UAE police had carried out a special operation dubbed ‘Fox Hunt 2’. Hushpuppi was accused of defrauding 1.9 million persons of N168 billion. The Instagram celebrity was later arraigned and detained at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Chicago ahead of trial.
On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to a money laundering charge, which could earn him as much as 20 years in jail if found guilty.
Not many saw it coming but it is here all the same: Kyari was dragged into the saga after the US department of justice quoted Hushpuppi as telling the court that he bribed the DCP to jail Chibuzor Vincent, an associate with whom he was locked in a dispute over how to share $1.1 million proceeds of a fraudulent deal with some Qatari business executives.
Vincent was said to have alerted the victim and told him he was being scammed by Hushpuppi’s syndicate. It was on this basis, the court documents stated, that Hushpuppi was said to have contacted Kyari to facilitate his arrest.
Hushpuppi alleged that Kyari sent him photos of Vincent in jail and followed this up with a bank account number to which a wire transfer should be made for the successful arrest and detention of his co-fraudster.
As news of the alleged dealings with the embattled socialite became public knowledge, Kyari denied the allegations. He said he only facilitated Hushpuppi’s purchase of native clothing and that there hadn’t been a bribe. The DCP added that Hushpuppi made a distress call after threats were allegedly issued to his family by Vincent. But the indictment won’t be the first allegation of impropriety to be made against the top police officer.
Kyari, born March 17, 1975, leads the inspector-general of the police intelligence response team (IGP-IRT). He is regarded as a no-nonsense investigator and has a track record of being saddled with high-profile assignments. Kyari led the operation that led to the arrest of Chukwudi Onuamadike, the notorious kidnap kingpin better known as Evans, in 2017.
Most recently, the crack investigator, who has won the police medal for courage three years in a row, was deployed to probe the attack on Samuel Ortom, Benue state governor.
Gunmen had opened fire on Ortom’s convoy while he was visiting a farm in Benue on March 20, 2021.
The governor had accused “herders” of carrying out the attack and Mohammed Adamu, the former IGP, subsequently deployed Kyari’s team to investigate the incident.
“The Team, led by DCP Abba Kyari – a no-nonsense investigator – consists of operatives from the Tactical Investigation Units of the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) and other experienced, crack detectives with specialized competencies in crime scene investigation and reconstruction, ballistics, fingerprint analysis and other core areas of forensics,” Frank Mba, police spokesman, had said.
But despite his well-publicised sterling qualities as a police officer, Kyari has also been accused of several acts unbecoming of a supposedly model cop.
In October 2020, Kyari was accused of extorting N41 million from one Afeez Mojeed, a Lagos-based businessman. Mojeed claimed the extortion was done in 2014 when Kyari was the officer in charge of the now-disbanded special anti-robbery squad (SARS) in Lagos. The accuser said he unsuccessfully sought justice at the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
In a petition filed on October 22, 2020, through Salawu Akingbolu & Co, and addressed to the Lagos judicial panel of inquiry for victims of SARS-related abuses, Kyari and his officers were accused of forcefully taking about 32 items from Mojeed’s house during a raid in 2014. The businessman, who was at home with his pregnant wife, an 18 month-old son, and mother-in-law, said he thought it was a robbery.
He said phones, cheque books, bank cards, and documents were taken. After ransacking the house, Mojeed was reportedly taken to the SARS office in Ikeja where he was detained for 14 days. He was later “arraigned on a trumped-up charge” of stealing N97 million. In the documents seen by TheCable at the time, it was alleged that for over one year during which the matter was in court, the police “never showed up or brought any witness”.
“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, adding that the charges against him were later struck out in court.
Narrating his ordeal, Mojeed said 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 on October 22 to 23, 2014 and gave the sum to Alabi Olawale Nurudeen who is one of their cronies to withdraw”.
The police allegedly obtained a password to his bank card and withdrew another N395,000 between October 20 and 23, 2014. 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 to forcefully transfer N41 million and N800,000” from his corporate account into the account of one Obinna Edward, whom Mojeed stated he had never seen or heard of before.
In 2018, Amnesty International and the NHRC accused Kyari of illegally depleting the assets of one Collins Ezenwa, a suspected criminal, after his team shot the man dead. Ezenwa’s wife, at the time, said Kyari and his team withdrew money from her late husband’s account and pocketed millions from his hotels.
Kyari denied corruption amongst his team but did not categorically address the allegations made by Ezenwa’swife.
Before the hearings of the Lagos judicial panel on #EndSARS, Kyari’s squad had been accused of extrajudicial killings. In late 2019, a federal high court sitting in Jos, Plateau had threatened to jail Abubakar Mohammed, the then-IGP, and Kyari, for disobeying its orders.
This was after the duo failed to produce a suspect, Nanpon Sambo, who was alleged to have died in police custody in Abuja.
Years after that incident, Kyari — who recently made headlines after he was spotted at the lavish funeral of Obi Cubana’s mother — now finds himself in the law’s crosshairs.
The revered criminal hunter is now haunted by his alleged sins.