Hushpuppi’s Fraud Case: DCP Abba Kyari Risks Dismissal, Criminal Prosecution – Police Service Commission
Police Service Commission said it will determine the fate of embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari over his alleged involvement in Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi fraud case.
The Commissioner in charge of Media on the board of the Police Service Commission, Mr Austin Braimoh disclosed that Kyari risked dismissal, demotion, suspension, criminal prosecution, depending on the gravity of the offence.
It would be recalled that a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal complaint lodged at the United States District Court in California listed Hushpuppi and Kyari among six suspects indicted in the international fraud conspiracy.
The other suspects include AbdulRahman Juma (Abdul); Vincent Kelly Chibuzo (Kelly); Rukayat Motunrayo Fashola (Morayo); and Bolatito Tawakalitu Agbabiaka (Bolamide).
Kyari was shot to limelight after his team arrested alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudi Onuamadike, commonly known as Evans.
The celebrated cop had received rapid promotions and a commendation from the National Assembly for his contribution to fighting crime in Nigeria.
However, on Wednesday, an unsealed 69-page court document showed that he had been under investigation by the FBI for his alleged link to Hushpuppi, who had pleaded guilty to fraud.
In the case marked 2:21-cr-00203, USA vs Abba Alhaji Kyari dated April 29, 2021, the FBI asked a US District Court in California to order Kyari’s arrest.
According to the court document shared on the official website of US Department of Justice, Hushpuppi disclosed during interrogation that he paid bribe to Kyari, a deputy police commissioner, to have one of his rivals arrested and jailed in Nigeria following a dispute over a $1.1 million scam (N583,300,000) of a Qatari businessperson.
Officials stated that Hushpuppi was involved in an elaborate scheme to steal more than $1.1 million from a businessperson attempting to finance the construction of a school for children in Qatar.
According to the FBI, Hushpuppi asked Kyari to arrest a fellow fraudster, Kelly Chibuzor Vincent, after both were involved in a dispute over the $1.1m loot.
It was stated in the court document that in September 2019, Kyari travelled to Dubai and was picked by Hushpuppi’s driver.
The top detective, however, denied the allegation, claiming that his “hands are clean”, alleging that he only offered to help Hushpuppi after the socialite raised an alarm that Vincent Kelly Chibuzo, his co-fraudster, allegedly threatened his family in Nigeria.
The DCP added that the international fraudster saw some of clothes on his social media page and he expressed interest in shopping for them.
Kyari explained that he then connected the seller of the clothes with Hushpuppi and he N300,000 directly to the person’s account for native attires and five caps.
Following the US court arrest warrant, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, ordered a review of the information on Kyari.
However, Mr Austin Braimoh in an interview with ThePunch said the PSC would not be bound by the IG’s review of the allegations against Kyari, noting that the commission would carry out further probe on whatever findings the police authorities made on Kyari.
Braimoh stated that the commission’s findings would determine Kyari’s future in the police force.
The commission won’t say anything until we get the official report. We are the final decision-maker on his fate as a police officer. Everything concerning his indictment can be investigated and the criminal aspect of it can be sent to the law court but on the official aspect concerning discipline; no other body has power to do anything to him as a police officer, it is only the commission that has such powers.
So, the commission is awaiting the full report of investigation and his indictment and we will treat it officially; we would apply the law. The law will determine the various punishments that we can award against him. He can be dismissed depending on the gravity of the offence; we can demote him, reduce his rank; we can suspend him.
He added that;
Many things are laid out before us pertaining to various offences and after that, the criminal aspect would be referred to the court for prosecution. It depends on how the report is coming; whether it is coming to us directly for us to extricate the criminal aspect and treat it or they want to treat it and refer the official one to us to discipline him.
When asked if the police could be trusted to carry out a thorough, unbiased investigation, the commissioner disclosed that the PSC investigation department will subject the findings of the police review to further investigations.
Giving an insight into the disciplinary process the embattled DCP would go through, Braimoh explained that Kyari would be queried after which he would be interrogated by the Force Disciplinary Committee.
We don’t always believe the police should investigate the police (personnel) except through the commission. But the important thing is that whatever thing they decide to do, we are not obliged to accept their investigations. So, our investigation department would still go further to get the facts.
What we know they would do is that a query would be issued based on the complaints against him, he would be asked to defend himself and then, he would face what we call the Force Disciplinary Committee which would interrogate him and the report is passed to the DIG in charge and from there to the IG.
The IG would basically forward the final findings and recommendations to the commission. The commission would now carry on with their own investigation; we have to re-investigate what they have done to ensure that they comply with the rule of law and what is expected.
Our lawyer would look into it, he would check the facts and if we feel there is negligence and that some things are not done, we would do a thorough job and eventually, we would have recommendations from the standing committee to the plenary for a final decision and our decision is final on his career.
When asked if Kyari should be suspended pending the investigation’s outcome, Braimoh said this was the normal thing to do.
He, however, observed that the US court had not criminalised the IRT commander, noting that Kyari would have to step aside once the allegations against him were established.
The commissioner added;
The way we look at it is that the court has given an order that he should be arrested, the court has not criminalised him yet; he has not been convicted.
Since, there is little hope, or what you call beyond reasonable doubt, he may be found clean. The issue of stepping aside in Nigeria may be different. The facts of the allegations would be made available to the force, and I’m sure the needful would be done.