Nigerians woke up on Thursday to the shocking news reports that a US fraud investigation has linked Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari with notorious internet fraudster, Ramon ‘Hushpuppi’ Abbas as part of a $1.1 million heist.
Further details indicate that a US court issued a warrant for the arrest of DCP Kyari popularly referred to as ‘Supercop’ for his numerous exploits in high-profile crime-busting, and directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track him.
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The initial statement by the Department of Justice, US Attorney’s Office in Central District of California dated July 28, 2021, and marked “For Immediate Release”, is titled “Six Indicted in International Scheme to Defraud Qatari School Founder and then Launder over $1 million in Illicit Proceeds.”
The statement further reads: “Nigerian National Known as ‘Hushpuppi’ Admits Money Laundering in School Financing Scam and Additional Cyber and Business Email Compromise Scheme.”
The US report details the plot to steal the $1.1 million from the businessperson seeking to finance the construction of a school in Qatar and subsequent launder of the funds through bank accounts around the world.
According to the report, $230,000 of the stolen funds was allegedly used to purchase a Richard Mille RM11-03 watch which was handed over to Hushpuppi in Dubai.
This appeared on his social media posts with other illicit proceeds converted into cashier cheques, including $50,000 in cheques that Hushpuppi and a co-conspirator used to acquire a St. Christopher and Nevis citizenship by creating a false marriage certificate and then bribing a government official in St. Kitts.
On Abba Kyari, the report stated that following dispute among members of the conspiracy, which prompted Vincent Chibuzo to alert the victim, Hushpuppi arranged for his jail in Nigeria by the cop.
“After his contact, Abbas (Hushpuppi) allegedly arranged to have Vincent jailed in Nigeria by Abba Alhaji Kyari. According to an affidavit, Kyari is a highly decorated deputy commissioner of the Nigeria Police Force who is alleged to arrange for Vincent to be arrested and jailed at Abbas’ behest, and then sent Abbas photographs of Vincent after his arrest.
“Kyari also allegedly sent Abbas bank account details for an account to which Abbas could deposit payment for Vincent’s arrest and imprisonment,” the report said.
But Kyari in a post on a Facebook page said two years ago that Hushpuppi made a distress call alerting his office to a threat to the lives of his family and that his team responded by arresting the suspect (believed to be one Vincent), and later released him. He said nobody demanded money from Hushpuppi.
He said Hushpuppi later saw some of his native clothes and cap on social media and requested them, so he connected him with the maker and he sent N300,000 directly to the account of the maker, and five sets of the clothes were brought to his office and delivered to his emissary without anybody demanding money.
“Those who are celebrating that this is an indictment on us and mentioning some fictitious big money, they will be disappointed once again as our hands are clean and our record of service for two decades is open for everybody to see,” he said.
“They will continue seeing us serving our fatherland and we will continue responding to all distress calls from all Nigerians provided they are life-threatening,” he said.
He, however, did not admit or deny reports of being flown to meet Hushpuppi in Dubai in 2019.
More facts emerge after Kyari’s Facebook rebuttal
The United States District Court in California in a criminal complaint dated February 12, 2021, signed by FBI special agent, Andrew John Innocent and Magistrate Judge Patricia Donahue, surfaced in Nigeria with a list of suspects and details of their indictment.
The suspects are: Ramon Olorunwa Abbas (Ray Hushpuppi), who is already held in the US; AbdulRahman Imraan Juma (Abdul); Vincent Kelly Chibuzo (Kelly); Rukayat Motunuraya Fashola (Morayo); and Bolatito Tawakalitu Agbabiaka (Bolamide). Apart from Juma, who is Kenyan, the rest are Nigerians.
The report also included identification details of the suspects, including addresses of last location, telephone numbers, emails, and biodata.
The report concluded that there is probable cause to believe “that Abbas, Juma, Chibuzo, Kyari, Fashola, and Agbabiaka participated in the conspiracy to fraudulently obtain and launder money obtained from the victim of businessperson, in violation of 18 U.S.C. S1349 (Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud) and 18 U.S.C. S 1956 (h) (Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering.”
It went on to state that: “Abbas directly interacted with the victim businessperson falsely claiming to be a Wells Fargo banker named “Malik”.
This is not the first time the leader of the Inspector-General of Police Monitoring Team and the Intelligence Response Team has been accused of human rights violations and unaccounted recoveries in the course of his outstanding career.
The monitoring team’s role in the controversial death of Collins Ezenwa, an alleged kidnap kingpin in 2018, and the manner his asset was allegedly dissipated has been criticised by several human rights organisations.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Amnesty International have criticised some of the operations of the team.
Abba Kyari’s visit to Oba, Anambra State, during the burial of the mother of billionaire businessman, Obi Cubana, was criticised by Nigerians especially as some of the participants were alleged to have abused the Nigerian currency, which is a punishable offence in law.
However, many Nigerians would quickly recall some of the major crime-busting efforts of the Supercop such as the arrest of Nigeria’s most notorious billionaire kidnapper Chukwudumeme Onwaumadike Aka Evans in Lagos State and his gang members and the arrest of the killers of former Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) Air Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd) along the Keffi-Gitata Kaduna Road.
Others are the arrest of 22 Boko Haram gang members responsible for the kidnap of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2014 and also series of suicide bombings/several attacks and ambush against security agents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
The successful operation against bandits on the Abuja-Kaduna highway and the dislodgement of most of the members of the Eastern Security Network accused of killing policemen and burning police stations and detention facilities in the South East.
Watchers view the latest action of the FBI as a dent on Kyari’s sterling career. Also, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has advised him to go to the United States of America and defend himself against the bribery accusation made against him by the notorious fraudster, Hushpuppi.
“The United States of America is an organised constitutional democracy where the rule of law is supreme. So if a crime suspect makes an affidavit accusation under oath against you, it doesn’t need to be disclaimed in the local media here,” HURIWA said.
PDP demands full investigation
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demanded a forensic investigation into reports that the United States (US) Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has linked the head of the IGP Intelligence Response Team, DCP Abba Kyari, to an international fraudster, Abbas Ramon, popularly known as Hushpuppi.
United States District Court for the Central District of California has ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track down Kyari and produce him in the United States for his alleged role in a multi-million dollar fraud perpetrated by Ramon ‘Hushpuppi’ Abbas.
In a statement, spokesman of the PDP Kola Ologbondiyan said the revelation of the involvement of Kyari, as an alleged receiver of proceeds of international fraud is worrisome, disturbing and a stain on the integrity of Nigeria.
“It is indeed disquieting that the integrity of our nation has fallen so abysmally low under the corrupt and fraud-patronizing President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, to the extent that the head of its police intelligence unit is being charged in connection with international fraud.
“Our party demands that the APC administration should not sweep this matter under the carpet given the manifest rapport between Kyari and some top APC leaders. We urge President Buhari not to “ease out” this case of corruption but should immediately restore the integrity and image of our nation by allowing for a forensic investigation of the suspect.
“Moreover, if this Abba Kyari matter is not well handled, it will be a permanent stain on the reputation of our police, security system and our nation at large.
“The PDP, therefore, asks President Buhari to direct the Inspector-General of Police to take in Abba Kyari for questioning and if found culpable, he should be handed over to the FBI,” the statement read.
We’ll cooperate with FIB —Police
The authority of the Nigeria Police has broken its silence over the relationship of one of its popular officers, Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, with the suspected billionaire fraudster, Abbas Ramon, also known as Hushpuppi.
It also reacted to the order of the United States to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FIB) to track down Kyari over an allegation that the cop received money from Hushpuppi to help jail his associate.
Spokesman of the police, Frank Mba, in a terse statement, made available to newsmen in Abuja, said the Inspector-General of Police, has ordered an internal review of the allegations.
The statement read: ‘’Sequel to the receipt of allegation and indictment processes from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) against one of the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, DCP Abba Kyari, the Inspector General of Police IGP Usman Alkali Baba psc (+), NPM, fdc has ordered an internal review of the allegations.
‘’The Nigeria Police Force reaffirms its commitment to the pursuit of justice and the strengthening of its professional relationship with the FBI and other international partners.
‘’Further developments on this case will be communicated to members of the public accordingly.’’
John Chuks Azu, Idowu Isamotu & Hamisu Kabir Matazu