August 01, (THEWILL) – There are good police officers and bad ones. If you polled 20 crime reporters in Nigeria, more than eighty percent of them will most certainly thumbs up for DCP Abba Kyari as one of the good police officers they have encountered in their city beats.
No career police officer in the last couple years can claim to have made as many arrests as Kyari has done since he joined the Nigeria Police Force in 2000. Hardcore criminals dread him. Intransigent kidnappers look down when confronted with his baleful glare. Steely internet scammers become lily-livered before the tall and beefy crime buster. Crime reporters often tell stories of career criminals squealing in custody once they look into the penetrating gaze of the police officer, a penetrating gaze they liken to that of a Kanuri hunter.
Abba Kyari is Kanuri by birth, born into a very large family in Yobe state with more than 30 siblings. It can’t be too rosy with that number of children under one roof. By his own admission, it was not. To eke out a living, Kyari became a commercial motorcyclist while in secondary school and university before joining the Nigeria Police Force in 2000. He was just 25.
By his own admission, again, he wanted to be a pilot, sitting pretty in the cockpit and flying up in the air and not chasing rogues down here on earth. As it turned out, his métier found him. It seemed a perfect fit, like he was tailor-made for the police or the force tailor-made for him.
From the presidency through several Force Headquarters across the country down to community police posts, Abba Kyari is not only a household name but also a model police officer, a super cop. His subordinates look up to him. His superiors adore him. Some of his colleagues are almost always eager to go on operations with him. For one, they are more than certain of success in nabbing the criminals, which means promotion and respect from their colleagues.
Until his redeployment to Force Headquarters in Abuja where he heads the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team, Kyari was head of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Lagos state for many years. His tenure was a stunning success, unrivalled and unsurpassed by any past or present police officer. No wonder erstwhile IGP, Mohammed Adamu, drafted him to the Federal Capital Territory where the brilliant and uncompromising cop continued his streak of success, bursting criminal gangs, sending their leaders to the slammer or dueling some during surprise police raids.
So daring is Kyari that he once told an interviewer how much they prepare before storming criminal hideouts. “We prepare ourselves very well and gather our intelligence before we move for such deadly operations,” Kyari said in 2020. “We make sure we know their total number, the strength of their armoury, how they operate, their hideouts, their exact locations, where they can possibly ambush us when we eventually go for them and several other intelligence. We take note of all these threats before we go after them. We don’t just rush people, we must gather enough evidence before swooping on them.”
From his celebrated bagging of infamous kidnap kingpin, Chukwudi Onuamadike aka Evans to the arrest of killers of former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Bardeh, and several others, Kyari has proved to be one tough nut to crack by hard-eyed criminals.
It is reasonable to assume that some of the toughies would have made several attempts to take out their nemesis, kidnap his relative or some such stratagem to weaken his fighting spirit. As far as is known, no such thing has happened. Instead, Kyari has led posse after posse of daring police officers countless times to smoke out criminals from their den, track and kill some during operations and even prevent some from carrying out robberies and the like.
Like the street-savvy gumshoe he is, robbers, kidnappers and even internet fraudsters have learnt to quake before one of the most intrepid crime busters in the history of Nigeria Police. At his peak when he was DCP in Lagos, criminal gangs, so it was said, wisely relocated from the coastal capital to neigbhouring states. If you want to live and enjoy your loot, the criminals reasoned, and logically so, it is safer and better not to confront the tough police officer who will most certainly track you down during or after operations.
Recalling his formative years in his father’s house where he adjudicated on domestic squabbles, he let on that “some of the experiences I gathered while being a judge in my family were not to believe in everything people tell you because they will never tell you the truth. My reason was because people always try to defend themselves wherever there is a problem. People will try to lie, dodge and do all manner of things just to declare their innocence.”
Will the police officer subvert the mantra he has always lived by from his younger years to now as a crime buster? Will the beleaguered and much decorated police officer “lie, dodge and do all manner of things to declare” his innocence in the case he is currently saddled with?
Nigerians and the rest of the world are waiting with breathless anticipation as the case unravels bit by bit in a California court. The otherwise untarnished police chief has been accused by an international fraudster, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas aka Hushpuppi of receiving bribe money from him. And not only that the super cop was on the take but he also put away his co-fraudster, Vincent Kelly Chibuzor, for constituting an unnecessary obstacle to an ongoing business deal.
Arrested by United Arab Emirate law enforcement agents last June, Hushpuppi was flown to the U.S. to face trial for his numerous scams, one of which involved the revered DCP Kyari. In is telling, Hushpuppi and his co-fraudster, Vincent Chibuzor, had successfully swindled an Emirati businessman the sum of $1.1m. As it sometimes happens with thieves, Abbas and Chibuzor fell out over sharing the loot.
Aggrieved that he’d been schemed out by Abbas over the sudden windfall, Chibuzor threatened to rat on his partner. In the criminal underworld, there is an unwritten saying – not unlike the unwritten code of silence (Omerta) among the Mafia – that thou shall not grass. Chibuzor was determined to have his way. Abbas was more than determined to stop him, shut him up until the deal sailed through. Enter DCP Abba Kyari!
What transpired between Abbas, now on trial with possible sentencing anytime soon, is everywhere, in public discourse, trending online and in the social media. Abbas coopted the police chief to help put away Vincent in police custody for as long as a month. The model police officer duly obliged him and so arrested Chibuzor then locked him up without any charges filed against him all through his month-long incarceration. To prove that he arrested the right person, DCP Kyari was said to have sent the detainee’s photograph to Abbas for confirmation. He duly confirmed that the man, indeed, was Chibuzor. For the good job done by his friend Kyari, Abbas promptly wired some money to him.
More damning and clearly something of a cross on his shoulders now is an affidavit sworn to by a Federal Bureau of Investigation officer assigned to the Los Angeles Field Office, Andrew John Innocenti.
Stating his case last February from United States District Court for Central District of California, Innocenti who is of the High-Tech Organized Crime Squad where he investigates cyber-enabled fraud and business emailed compromise (BEC) schemes, issued a complaint and arrest warrant for Hushpuppi and his accomplices in a $1.1m scam from the Emirati businessman.
The affidavit, Innocenti went on, is made “in support of a criminal complaint against, and arrest warrant for, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas also known as Ray Hushpuppi…and the following persons who conspired with ABBAS and each other to fraudulently obtain and launder at least $1.126, 426. 36 from a victim.”
The criminal complaint, the sleuth continued, “charges the defendants with violations of 18 U.S.C. & 1349 (Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud) and 18 U.S.C. & 1955(h) (Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering.)” Stating the matter as it is, Innocenti insisted that “the facts set forth in this affidavit are based on my personal involvement in this investigation, my review of reports and other documents related to this investigation, my training and experience and information from other agents, law enforcement officials and employees and witnesses.”
If Innocenti’s and Hushpuppi’s allegations turn out to be true, then our super cop, our model cop will have morphed into a bad one. The evidences – from call logs to money transfers and photographs sent – are damning. For now however, they are still allegations.
Even so, the DCP himself has denied taking any bribe from the Instagram celeb, insisting that he helped Hushpuppi purchase some fabric, native clothing. Concerning his unlawful detention of Chibuzor, Kyari said he responded to a distress call put to him by Abbas after Chibuzor threatened the former’s family.
To be sure, Hushpuppi’s confessional isn’t the first time Kyari would be embroiled in such cases of bribery and extortion. Last October at the Judicial Panel of Inquiry into Police Brutality and Related Matters, disturbing news filtered through that Kyari and members of his squad extorted N41m from a Lagos-based businessman, Afeez Mojeed. The offence was committed in 2014. At the time, Mojeed lost several personal belongings (cheque books, phones, bank cards and documents) during a surprise police raid. To compound his woes, Mojeed was detained for two weeks at Ikeja Police Command and later charged falsely for stealing N97m.
According to reports then, led by Kyari, his squad serially extorted Mojeed whom they forcefully collected N396, 000 for three days beginning from October 20 – 23. Prompted by Kyari, an Inspector, Fola, Corporals Bolu and Akeem force-marched Mojeed to a branch of Diamond Bank in Ajah where they transferred the sum of N41m from his corporate account to someone named Obinna Edward.
A first class crime fighter any day, Kyari has also been accused in the past of some extrajudicial killing of both innocent and hard-eyed criminals. The family of one Collins Ezenwa have not gotten the brutal murder of their son, a suspected criminal in 2018. Wife of the deceased told a hearing in Lagos that Kyari and some of his men withdrew money from his account and also kept millions to themselves from the proceeds of Ezenwa’s hotel business.
Until their disclosure in the panel of inquiry into police brutality last year, Abba Kyari remained the number one cop, the one who can successfully smell out criminals wherever they may be. His street cred and professional rep were solid as ever. But just recently during the funeral ceremony of mother of socialite and club owner, Obi Iyiegbu, in an otherwise sleepy settlement in Anambra state, Nigerians were somewhat bumfuzzled when they saw the venerated police officer hobnobbing in the company of men with question marks over their names.
The revelations by Hushpuppi, if there is any truth to them, will further diminish the rising stature of one of the best police officers Nigeria has ever produced. Of course, good cops sometimes become bad. One of the most infamous cases of a super cop turning bad happened 35 years ago in Benin City.
On Valentine Day in 1986, DSP George Iyamu, was trussed tightly to a stake and readied for firing squad. Though he denied conniving with Lawrence Nomayagbon Anini, there was mounting evidence that the police officer did, indeed, aid the criminal exploit of the notorious gang. He was shot.
What happens to DCP Kyari in the coming weeks, months is hard to say. Innocenti and his team have already issued an arrest warrant for Hushpuppi’s accomplices, including Nigeria’s adored police officer. For that, extradition requests will have to be made to his country of origin. Will the Nigerian government allow its top cop face extradition to face trial in another country? Nobody knows yet. For now, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, has ordered an internal investigation into the case, based on the reciept of allegation and inditiment processes from the FBI.
What we do know however is that if you polled the same crime reporters to rate police officers post-Hushpuppi’s revelations, not many of them will plump for DCP Kyari anymore.