The recent troubles of Abba Kyari, a one-time celebrated super cop who is now in the net of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), is an indictment on the Nigerian Police Force that pronounced his suspension six months earlier.
Reports from POLITICS NIGERIA recalls how the deputy commissioner of police and head of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) was in August 2021 suspended by the Police Service Commission (PSC) after a U.S. court fingered him as a conspirator in a $1.1 million fraudulent deal against a Qatari businessman.
The FBI investigators established a relationship between Mr Kyari and Ramon Abbas, a popular Internet fraudster standing trial also nicknamed “Hushpuppi”.
The PSC said Mr Kyari’s suspension was based on the recommendation of Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba. The police chief recommended the suspension as a temporary measure while an investigation into the matter continues.
According to the PSC spokesperson, Ikechukwu Ani, Kyari was relieved of all his duties pending the outcome of the investigation in respect of his indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States.
Kyari, however, denied any wrongdoing even though he admitted to having facilitated some ‘tailoring’ works for the suspected fraudster.
Fresh Troubles/Cocaine Trafficking
While calls for the extradition of the embattled officer to the U.S. have continued to gain momentum on social media, he was enmeshed in another scandal on Monday.
Kyari and his team were declared wanted by the NDLEA for their involvement in a multimillion Naira drug deal.
At the Monday briefing in Abuja, the NDLEA spokesman said the embattled Kyari was declared wanted over his involvement in a 25kgs Cocaine deal. He said that the NDLEA took the decision after all efforts to get Kyari to honour formal invitations for his interrogation failed.
He lamented that those who are supposed to support current efforts to stem the tide of illicit drug trafficking and abuse are themselves neck-deep in the menace.
“With the intelligence at our disposal, the agency believes strongly that DCP Kyari is a member of a drug cartel that operates the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria illicit drug pipeline, and he needs to answer questions that crop up in an ongoing drug case in which he is the principal actor.”
“His failure to cooperate forced the hand of the Agency and that is the reason for this press briefing,” Babafemi said.
Meanwhile, before the close of business on Monday, the police arrested Kyari and turned him in at the NDLEA FCT command.
Timeline: Police indictment
Checks by POLITICS NIGERIA have revealed that despite the fact that Kyari was on suspension, he was still involved in the activities of the police force. According to the NDLEA, on January 21, 2022, Kyari initiated a call to one of the NDLEA officers in Abuja and approached him with a deal.
The embattled cop said his team had intercepted and arrested some traffickers that came into the country from Ethiopia with 25kg of cocaine.
“He proposed a drug deal whereby he and his team are to take 15kg of the cocaine and leave 10kg for the prosecution of the suspects arrested with the illicit drug in Enugu. In the meantime, the purloined cocaine will be replaced with a dummy worth 15kg. He asked the NDLEA officer to persuade men of the FCT Command to play along as well.” Babafemi told journalists.
On January 24, the NDLEA officer and Kyari began a WhatsApp call for the rest of the day and conveyed his willingness to play the game.
“At this point, Kyari disclosed that the 15kg (already taken out) was shared between the informants that provided information for the seizure and he and his men of the IRT of the Nigerian Police. According to him, the informants were given 7kg while his team took 8kg which was already sold. He then offered to pay the NDLEA team (that is the officer and the FCT commander) by selling, on their behalf, half of the remaining 10kg, thereby further reducing the original cocaine for the prosecution to just 5kg.”
“At N7m per kilogram, the proceed from the 5kg would amount to N35m, at the exchange rate of N570 per dollar being the black market rate for the day, January 24, 2022. In effect, he would be delivering $61, 400 to the NDLEA team. He put pressure on our officer to wrap up the arrangement with the commander of the FCT Command to take custody of the drug and suspects from his men who were on ground in Abuja. At the time, he was speaking from Lagos, where he allegedly travelled for private business.”
However, rather than address the question of how Kyari defied the PSC suspension to perpetrate the drug crime, the Police Headquarters said that some NDLEA officials who were reportedly involved in the drug deal should also be arrested.
The Deputy Force Public Relations Officer (DFPRO), Olumuyiwa Adejobi, after confirming Kyari’s involvement, said in a statement in Abuja that some NDLEA officials were allegedly involved in the drug deal.
He said that the police had carried out discreet investigation when it received a request from the NDLEA on February 10.
“In line with standard administrative procedure of the Force, the Inspector General of Police ordered a high-level, discreet, and in-house investigation into the allegations. The interim investigations report revealed that two international drug couriers identified as Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus, both males, were arrested at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, on Jan. 19.”
“The suspects were arrested upon their arrival from Addis Ababa aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight ET917.”
“The arrest led to the recovery of substantial quantity of powdery substance suspected to be cocaine from the two narcotic couriers.”
“The operation which was intelligence-driven, was undertaken by a Unit of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT),” he said.
Many Nigerians have said that the fact that Kyari was still in the scheme of things despite his suspension exemplifies an alleged corruption endemic in the police force.
“As a suspended Officer, how did Kyari gain access to seized cocaine? What is the Police not telling us?,” Henry Shield, a good governance advocate asked rhetorically.
Also, human rights lawyer, Festus Ogun, stated that the saga further exposed the rot in the system.
“Kyari’s continuous control of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) despite his suspension is deeply scandalous, indicting and shameful. It truly exposed the rot in our system and the insincerity of the authorities to diligently investigate the allegations against him.”