This Colossal Scandal Goes Far Beyond Just Abba Kyari - By: Bulama Bukarti | Dailytrust

This Colossal Scandal Goes Far Beyond Just Abba Kyari

Abba Kyari
Abba Kyari

Monday’s decision by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to indict suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Abba Kyari was no surprise to most Nigerians. But the sheer depth and scale of the decadence as revealed in the evidence so far revealed left me gobsmacked. Reading the reactions on social media, I saw that Nigerians have not come to grips with the enormity of the matter at stake. This issue goes far beyond just one person or a group or even one institution or two. It is an indictment of our entire systems of justice and accountability if they still qualify to be called “systems”. The revelations are a demonstration of the debauchery in our law enforcement and a huge blow to our already battered international image.

When Kyari was first accused last August, I wrote a column urging us to “stop jumping the gun”. I don’t have the authority to be judge and jury this case, but I’ve now seen enough to make up my own mind. For the avoidance of doubt, the facts I discuss herein are as alleged by the authorities, which Kyari denies.

One needs a moment to let the revelations sink in. Suspended DCP Abba Kyari is accused of being “a member of a drug cartel that operates the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria illicit drug pipeline”. The NDLEA explained that Kyari was wanted not just as an aider or abettor, which would have been damning enough, but for being “the principal actor” who received and sold 25kg of cocaine last January. Moments after the press statement, the agency released a video tape of a man said to be Kyari inside a car breaking down the quantities of the illegal substance that he sold and delivering the sum of $61,400 to a supposed accomplice as their share of the drug deal. He went on to explain how this matter could be covered up in a way that shows that he has been in this business for a long time.

The supposed accomplice is an NDLEA official who “played along” with Kyari when the latter approached him to discuss the deal. But the criminality in this case pales in comparison to the betrayal of public trust it represents. The indictment says that Kyari did not import these drugs himself, but he has an informant within the ring who alerted him when consignments were about to arrive. He would then move quickly to seize the drugs. But instead of turning in the suspects and the exhibits for prosecution, Kyari would sell the substance and release the suspects, possibly after charging them millions, and end up making billions without taking of risks drug barons bear. All he needed for this criminal and treacherous trade was his uniform.

But Kyari did not move swiftly enough this time around, according to the allegations. By the time he reached the scene, the NDLEA had seized the cocaine. Instead of simply counting this unlucky, he thought he could still make his money. So he approached the NDLEA officer in charge of the matter with a deal to sell 15kg of the confiscated drugs and replace them with dummies. The scrupulous NDLEA officer informed his bosses, who instructed him to “play along “with Kyari so they could get to the bottom of his illicit enterprise. Kyari sold 20kg and left the remaining 5kg as the drugs that would be tested for prosecution purposes, apparently because his supposed accomplice had insisted on prosecuting the matter. This reveals not only Kyari’s embeddedness in the cartel importing illegal drugs into Nigeria, but also his personal links with the cocaine dealers, customers and users in our country.

That a senior police officer would be involved in peddling and selling drugs seized on official duty is, to say the least, outrageous. This says everything about why our policing is the complete disaster that it has become. We know that the Nigerian police are beyond corrupt, but no one could have imagined that the decadence has reached this level. Even more worrisome is the fact that Kyari is one of the police officers closest to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and operated inside the police headquarters in Abuja. That Kyari had access to the information and resources of Nigeria’s police while he was on suspension for suspected serious transnational organised criminal activities is simply unfathomable. It shows either that his suspension was just a smokescreen or that his employer was grossly negligent.

Kyari made himself “Nigeria’s most celebrated cop” not for his hard work, but for his showmanship. He knew how to exploit social media and use conventional media to put up the image of a supposed hero in country full of gullible people. One can’t understand how on earth a policeman was allowed to publish images of high-level police operations while they were still active. He and his associates flooded social media with pictures of him matching into the jungle to catch kidnappers, as if to tip the targets to escape; he posed with arrested notorious kidnappers like Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike (Evans) and Hamisu Bala (Wadume) in photos that were widely shared as evidence of his invincibility. We all knew that Kyari did not conduct these operations himself or alone, but took the credit alone.

On quieter days, Kyari was an Instagram blogger. He and his brother – whom he sponsored – showcased their lavish lifestyle with exotic cars and expensive shoes, watches and clothes. Other police officers were not allowed to display their life at work or out of it. But Kyari was an exception to this rule. Let us remember that Kyari’s salary could not cover his lifestyle and his job forbade him from taking on commercial activities, lest we assume that his income was legitimate. Furthermore, if the police leadership did their job, they would have found out that Kyari has built one of the most expensive houses in Maiduguri and he may own mansions across the country. Maybe they did find out, but Kyari was above questioning.

It was when Kyari wallowed in his made-up celebrity splendour that a stunning indictment dropped from no other place than the United States of America alleging that he was fingered in a $1.1 million scam, with text messages and call logs backing the allegations. Reports have it that the panel instituted by the IGP had found the United States’ allegation to be credible. But instead of dismissing Kyari and extraditing him to face justice, the panel recommended that he should be demoted from a DCP to an Assistant Commissioner of Police. That is why the Police Service Commission rejected the first report that took five months to prepare and ordered a fresh one last week. That the IGP thinks demotion by a single rank was sufficient punishment for a police officer who was involved in a transnational swindle run by one world’s most notorious scammers says everything about the culture of corruption in our police headquarters.

That the police refused to hand over Kyari and his accomplices until the NDLEA went public suggests that the IGP wanted to let Kyari off the hook not just in respect of the American indictment, but also of the Nigerian one. That Kyari was finally handed over along with four co-conspirators, all senior police officers, shows that this scandal has eaten very deep. Many heads should roll and the IGP who presided over this national disgrace – assuming he is not personally involved – should not last another week in office. But I won’t hold my breath, because President Buhari has condoned worse betrayals of public trust. The fish that is Buhari’s Nigeria is rotting from the very top and that is why the Kyaris of this world think they can get away with literally anything.

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