Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, is the Commander of the Inspector General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT). His activities have continued to enjoy rave reviews, having been credited with close to 100 high-profile arrests in Nigeria. He is considered as the most decorated police officer in the country. He is a sort of ‘Poster-Boy’ of the force, with many medals of excellence to his name. His team busted the kidnap ring of Evans (Chukwudi Dumee Onuamadike) and effected his arrest. He is your typical super-cop and an incorruptible officer, one of the very few exemplary Nigerian policemen. He is held in honour in high places.
In 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari honoured him with the Presidential Medal for Courage. A couple of years earlier, the Nigerian Police Force awarded Kyari the Commendation Medal for Courage, three years in a row – 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Lagos State government honoured him with the Governor’s Award for Gallantry, Leadership and Service Excellence.
But in recent months, sordid allegations are coming up against him soiling his incredible reputation. Whether these are calculated attempts to drag him down by detractors or vengeful elements are not yet clear. Time will tell.
ogbomosoinsightonline.com looks at few weighty allegations against him, against the backdrop of the Hushpuppi fraud case in which the FBI ordered his arrest over.
1. Involvement in Hushpuppi’s $1.1million fraud case
A breaking news earlier today had a banner headline bordering on an order by a United States court for the arrest of Abba Kyari. The District Court of California issued the warrant of arrest for Kyari over his alleged role in series of fraud committed by notorious internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas aka Hushpuppi. It was gathered that Otis Wright of the United States District Court for the Central District of California ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to arrest Kyari and produce him in the United States for his role in a $1.1million fraud.
US Court documents showed that American prosecutors first sought a court warrant to arrest Kyari on February 12, 2021. Another warrant was requested on April 29, 2021.
It was further gathered that Judge Wright’s permission for the FBI to arrest Mr. Kyari and hold him in U.S. custody was unsealed on July 26, 2021.
Hushpuppi had narrated to the US court how he allegedly bribed Kyari to arrest and jail one of his rivals in Nigeria (Kelly Chibuzor Vincent) over a disputed sharing formula in $1.1million dupe of Qatari businessperson.
Expectedly however, Kyari has denied the allegation. He refuted the allegation though admitting the man sent him N300, 000 which he noted was the payment for native attire and caps he bought from a seller he linked with Hushpuppi, after the latter had expressed admiration for some of his attire on his Facebook page.
He added that truly Hushpuppi contacted him to arrest a fellow over threat to his family which was carried out but that the person was released on bail after discovering it was a family misunderstanding.
2. Allegation of extortion of over N41m by businessman
A businessman in Lagos, Afeez Mojeed last year October opened a can of worms at the Lagos State (#EndSARS) Judicial Panel of Inquiry, which was instituted against the operatives of the disbanded SARS. Kyari was once the Commander of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Lagos state. Mojeed through a petition had alleged that Kyari extorted the money in 2014. He had sought justice earlier on between 2016 and 2018 through the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), but to no avail. In a fresh 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.
The petitioner said his ordeal began on the night of October 18, 2014, when four gun-wielding policemen from SARS broke into his house. The businessman, who was at home with his pregnant wife, 18 month-old son and mother in-law, had thought it was a robbery attack.
“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 allegedly taken from his house. He was subsequently detained for 14 days. He was later “arraigned on a trump-up charge” of stealing N97 million and for over one year, the matter was in court, the police “never showed up or brought any witness.” After several adjournments, the court reportedly struck out the charge against him.
According to the petition, 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”. The police also allegedly obtained password to his bank card with which they withdrew another N395, 000 from his account 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, 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.”
Mojeed’s counsel had 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 read.
Kyari was also accused of attempting to connive with Mojeed’s counsel to further extort him.
The senior police officer reportedly told the counsel that Mojeed was an internet fraudster and that was why they took the money from him.
“He also went further that there was another N15 million in another account, that the counsel should cooperate with him to take it the way they took N41 million and a sum of N5 million would be given to him while they would take N10 million,” the petition read.
The counsel was allegedly threatened over the refusal to “cooperate” with Kyari.
Meanwhile, Kyari also denied the weighty allegation. His counsel, Barrister Hanzu Nuhu, said the businessman was playing the victim when, in fact, he is the culprit.
He also wrote on Facebook, “The Social Media Blackmailers should continue with their Social Media Blackmail. We will continue smiling and doing our work.
“We will never be demoralized or relent in fighting crimes and criminality in Nigeria. Our eyes will always remain on the ball.”
Kyari added that “our friends should not worry for one second”.
3. Arrest and disappearance of one Eric Okwaji
Eric Okwaji was said to have been beaten mercilessly by men of Abba Kyari in September 2014, in a Lagos neighbourhood, for having the effrontery to ask them to move their parked Sienna car. It was later learnt they had come to arrest a suspect in the area whom they however missed; it was the anger from that missed target that made them descend on Eric. Pleas by other residents for the police officers to exercise restraint were ignored. Eric’s battered body was then thrown into the back of the Sienna car, which sped off. Then, the stage was set for extortion, a sum of N400,000” was later demanded for the release of Eric, according to his father, Mr. Lawrence Macaulay, which he however could not raised, being a retired civil servant.
Mr. Kyari admitted that Eric was in his custody, but claimed he had been arrested for highway robbery, as against the known fact of being beaten and abducted on Nosamu Street in Lagos. Eric was not seen for six years.
4. Allegations of extra-judicial killings, corruption
In addition to revelations of extortion against Kyari, he was also alleged of extrajudicial killing. In January, 2019, Mrs. Gift Ezenwa, wife of a notorious kidnapper, Collins Ezenwa nicknamed ‘E-Money’ and killed in 2018 during an exchange of gunfire along Enugu-Owerri Expressway, accused Kyari and his team of taking over her husband’s assets illegally.
The National Human Rights Commission in a petition in October 2018 to then Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, also accused Kyari of illegally depleting the asset of Ezenwa, a former police corporal.
Kyari denied the allegation, describing it as cheap blackmail and an attempt by Mrs. Ezenwa to dent the image of his team after he refused a bribe to settle the case against her late husband.
“The family of the kidnapper was begging to settle with us but we refused. Then, they vowed to spend money to spoil our names as all their efforts to transfer the case out of our office failed,” he said.
Then again, in October 2019, Kyari was accused of extra-judicial killing of a suspect, Mr. Nanpon Sambo. A Federal High Court sitting in Jos, Plateau State, had ordered the IRT headed by Kyari, to produce a suspect before it either dead or alive. Justice Dorcas Agishi of Federal High Court 1 gave the order while ruling on two applications filed before her by Mr. D.G. Dashe, counsel to the suspect, Mr. Nanpon Sambo, who was alleged to have died in police custody in Abuja, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.
But rather than obeying the court order, Kyari in December 2019 filed motions asking the same court for stay of execution on the matter.
“l wonder why they could go on appeal of such an order because if the suspect is dead as they claimed and the court has ordered them to produce the corpse, they should just comply, ” the defense counsel said. Not much had been heard of that case since that period.