The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has declared the suspended head of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team (IRT), DCP Abba Kyari, wanted for drug trafficking.
The NDLEA said an investigation has revealed that the celebrated Kyari is a member of a drug syndicate operating across the globe.
- BREAKING: University lecturers begin 4-week strike action (+VIDEO)
- Osinbajo off to Liberia for Bicentennial celebrations
The spokesman of the agency, Mr Femi Babafemi, said this at a media briefing on Monday in Abuja.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has said there are reasonable grounds to proceed against Kyari, who was fingered in a multi-million dollars fraud spearheaded by Ramon Abass, aka Hushpuppi.
The U.S. government had in July 2021, unveiled the charges against Mr Kyari and other alleged co-conspirators.
Hushpuppy, a Nigerian Instagram celebrity until his arrest in Dubai, UAE, in June 2020, is one of the arrowheads of the scam.
He has pleaded guilty to the charges in a separate case, and his sentence is billed to come up later in the year.
“As far as I am concerned, the parties are discussing, the parties are collaborating and there are exchanges of correspondence from the perspective of investigation, from the perspective of extradition and associated things,” Malami had said in an interview on Channels Television.
Asked if Mr Kyari was found “guilty” in the police report, Malami said, “You can’t find someone guilty, but perhaps, reasonable grounds for suspicion can be established which will translate into prosecution.”
However, 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.
“Even before the damning findings of the 2018 National Drug Use and Health Survey, Nigeria’s drug problem was getting close to epidemic proportion.
“And if anything, the arrests and seizures by NDLEA in the past 12 months is an indication that the country’s drug problem was grossly underestimated before President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to strengthen the NDLEA and the subsequent launch of offensive action by the agency to clean the society of the menace.
“Unfortunately, some law enforcement agents who should be partners in the pursuit of the President’s mandate are at the forefront of breaking the law, as they aid and abet drug trafficking in the country.
“Today, we are forced to declare one of such law enforcement agents wanted in the person of suspended DCP Abba Kyari, the erstwhile Commander of Intelligence Response Team (IRT) at the Force Intelligence Bureau of the Nigerian Police Force.
“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.
Why Kyari was declared wanted
While explaining that relevant channels of communication were duly followed in the demand for Kyari without any result, the agency said it cannot continue to keep other suspects in the case indefinitely while the principal suspect fails to honour official invitation.
Babafemi also said that the NDLEA has the mandate to take custody of suspects and consignments of drugs seized by other arms of law enforcement.
He said that there is a standard protocol for such transfer and which the agency duly followed.
He said, “The suspects and drugs were delivered to us on February 8 but the last part of the process, yet to be completed, is the debriefing of Kyari.
“DCP Abba Kyari was invited by NDLEA for debriefing on Thursday, February 10 through two main channels because there is a whole lot of questions begging for answers.
“The invitation was legitimate and formal according to our protocol. But up till the close of office hours on Friday, February 11, he refused to respond. Up till this moment, he has not responded. We are a law-abiding agency of government. We follow due process.
“In that vein, we will not detain suspects beyond the stipulated period according to the law before we charge them to court. And Kyari must be debriefed before the suspects are arraigned in court.
“Having failed to honour the official invitation, NDLEA has no option but to declare DCP Abba Kyari of the Nigerian Police wanted, right from this very moment,” he added.
He said that the agency warned that it is not unaware of threats to the lives of its officers involved in the case, assuring that it would do everything to protect them.