The declaration of suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Abba Kyari wanted by the National Drug Law enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and his subsequent arrest on Monday followed failed attempts by police top brass to shield him from the latest and previous probes, Daily Trust can report.
Kyari, who is the Commander of Intelligence Response Team (IRT) at the Force Intelligence Bureau of the Nigeria Police Force and others are now in the custody of the NDLEA over allegations of involvement in drug dealings.
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Insiders said there were spirited efforts by top police officers, including retired senior officers close to the embattled intelligence officer, to give him soft-landing in the aftermath of his indictment by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as part of the investigation into the $1.1 million advanced fee fraud involving Abbas Ramon, aka Hushpuppi.
Daily Trust reliably gathered that the attempts to shield Kyari from facing the full wrath of the law set a section of the management of the Police Service Commission (PSC) against the police top echelon.
The commission had expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of the probe and the initial report produced by a police investigative panel on the matter which recommended that the embattled super cop should be demoted and reprimanded in the wake of serious infractions. One of our sources said President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed disgust over the development.
“Beyond the president, the diplomatic community is also dismayed,” another source said, adding that “There is serious pressure all over to bring all those that have hand in the drug deal and other infractions to book.”
The source said “some powerful forces” within the police were making moves to justify the apparent delay in telling the world more facts.
“Initially, they were saying Kyari knows a lot about Nigeria’s inner security architecture and therefore they should be allowed to deal with whatever allegations were levelled against him.
“However, when the NDLEA went public with what they have, the police handed him over…The apparent delay did not cast the police establishment in good light,” he said. It was also gathered that members of the PSC were not on the same page on the Kyari matter and many other issues. An insider said some members of the commission were favourably disposed with the posture at the Force Headquarters while others wanted to ensure that the mystery behind the latest cocaine deal involving Kyari and others was unravelled.
The four other operatives are ACP Sunday J. Ubua, ASP Bawa James, Inspector Simon Agirgba and Inspector John Nuhu.
Also, the NDLEA on Wednesday emphasised that it would not back out from its ongoing investigation despite subtle distraction from some high places even as findings at the Force Headquarters revealed that there was serious disquiet.
Observers and security sources believed that the statement by the anti-drug agency, signed by its director of media and advocacy, Femi Babafemi, was a tacit response to Monday’s statement by the police asking the NDLEA to also name its officers in the drug cartel.
Recall that a few hours after the NDLEA declared DCP Kyari and four others wanted, the police said it had arrested the suspects and handed them to the anti-drug agency but with a caveat.
The police, in a statement signed by its acting spokesman, CPS Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said: “Beyond this, the police investigation also established that the international narcotics cartel involved in this case has strong ties with some officers of the NDLEA at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu who are on their payroll…
“The Inspector General of Police has also formally requested that the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NDLEA should ensure the identification, arrest and investigation of the agency’s officers who have also been found to be colluding with the international drug cartel involved in this case towards advancing the anti-narcotics agenda of the federal government.”
NDLEA’s spokesman Babafemi countered in a statement yesterday saying “the agency remained committed to evidence-based investigation and its resolve cannot be weakened by misrepresentation of facts.”
According to him, it was untrue that “NDLEA officers at the Enugu airport were the ones who received the details about the mule (drug carriers) coming from Addis Ababa from the cartel.”
Also, the Chairman/Chief Executive of the agency, Mohammed Buba Marwa, said yesterday during a training on sensitization on drugs and drug prevention, treatment and care organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for NLDEA personnel and some journalists, that the arrest of Kyari was a clear message of the agency’s commitment to the fight against drug abuse. Marwa, a retired general, said those given the responsibility to fight crime must not soil their hands in the crime.
NPF acting spokesman Muyiwa Adejobi did not answer calls and text messages to his phone when Daily Trust was seeking clarifications on the allegations that the force wanted to cover up and protect Kyari; yesterday’s statement by the NDLEA; and how far the force had gone with the deadline of two weeks given to it by the PSC.
IGP, others meet CJN
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba and members of the Force Management Team, on Wednesday visited the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, in his office at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja.
The reason for the visit, according to a senior officer, was not unconnected with Kyari’s case but the force in a statement said it was aimed at solidifying the synergy between the police and the judiciary as key players in the criminal justice system of the nation with a view to ensuring smooth and efficient dispensation of justice.
PSC dormant, fuels indiscipline in NPF – Najatu
A member of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Najatu Mohammed, has called for the total overhaul of the Nigeria Police to address the indiscipline in the force.
Contacted to speak on Kyari’s case, she said the commission was not functional, adding that the mandate of the PSC had been “sold out”.
She said: “The commission does not recruit, promote and discipline. The constitutional mandate of the PSC has been sold out.
“They even pad promotion. After plenary, you see that the list is padded, they include names. We asked them to stop special promotion but they are still doing it through the backdoor.
“Of what use is the PSC? It is impotent; it is not functional and that is why there is so much indiscipline in the police force. And this is why we cannot address the insecurity challenge. PSC is not doing its job.
“We have been fighting over this. As it is now, the fundamental function of the PSC has been sold out,” she said.
Another source at the commission said the latest revelation about Kyari was not only shocking but that it showed there were so many atrocities being perpetrated by officers.
“I was shocked that someone that is awaiting judgement, so to say, from the PSC and somebody that has been on suspension for months would commit another crime of this magnitude. It is so shocking; it means that there are many unpleasant things that are going on.
“The commission cannot do anything; what can it do when the investigation is being done by the police? Yes, we have a department of investigation but there is nothing it can do, the role has been hijacked,” the source added.
“There is much corruption in the PSC. The PSC should not be led by a retired police officer. Because his mindset is that of police. The PSC Act allows for other calibre of people to chair the commission, not necessarily a retired police officer,” the source said.
Daily Trust reports that the PSC is being chaired by Musiliu Smith, a retired Inspector General of Police.
It would be recalled that in the aftermath of the US government’s indictment of Kyari last year, IGP Baba set up a panel on August 1 headed by the Deputy IGP in-charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), Joseph Egbunike.
The Egbunike panel took months working on the case before turning in a report that sources at the PSC described as “shallow” and stopped short of exonerating Kyari of all wrongdoings.
But both the PSC and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation expressed dissatisfaction with the report with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, recommending “more thorough dissecting and tracing” of the proceeds of crimes.
Malami opined that a prima facie case for money laundering was established against the suspended police officer.
“Though the panel did find him guilty of misconduct, they largely abandoned the substantive matter of his working in cahoots with criminals and other more grievous allegations.
“The PSC members were disappointed and found the report unacceptable,” said a senior official familiar with the matter.
Dissatisfied with the submitted report and riding on the AGF’s recommendation, the PSC, last month, ordered the police to conduct a fresh probe into the matter and submit a report, within two weeks, to the PSC Standing Committee on Discipline for review. However, over four weeks after the directive, the police management was yet to submit any report over what insiders said was a continuation of pressure against “sacrificing” the senior police officer.
Irked by the delay in turning in the fresh report, the PSC at its meeting last week demanded that the police authorities must submit the report within two weeks. According to an insider, the latest scandal around Kyari also assumed a similar pattern with senior police officers moving in to protect him from being investigated by the NDLEA.
By Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, Ismail Mudashir & Idowu Isamotu