Abba Kyari: A dinner with the devil
The things that attracted the ‘super cop’ to Nigerians were his accomplishments.
No Inspector General of Police would ignore such. He was a cops’ cop. He was a good ambassador to the brand.
He was a no-nonsense cop and famous for apprehending notorious criminals – Boko Haram terrorists, armed robbers, kidnappers, bank robbers, serial rapists and ritual killers.
Years of high-profile arrests won him acclaim and the enduring nickname: ‘Super cop’. The former head of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) was credited with tracking down masterminds behind suicide bombings that devastated Nigerian cities. He was held him in high esteem, and President Buhari awarded him a medal for courage.
With every accomplishment, he settled down to more duties. He drove his official duties in a manner that was not lousy until the Hushpuppi baggage came up.
He was accused for abusing his power to support a global fraud and scamming ring. Kyari, 46, is wanted in America on charges related to wire fraud and money laundering, according to documents unsealed in the U.S. District Court of California.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) indicted Kyari over his involvement in a $1.1million fraud committed by Nigeria’s most infamous scammer and notorious Internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas Olarewaju, aka Hushpuppi.
In an affidavit sworn to by Andrew John Innocent, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Abbas Ramon, popularly known as Hushpuppi, was said to have paid N8 million or $20, 600 to Abba Kyari, to arrest and detain a co-conspirator, Chibuzor Kelly Vincent over personal squabbles.
A document issued by the United States District Court for the Central District of California and dated February 12, 2021, alleged that Hushpuppi contracted the services of Kyari after Chibuzor allegedly threatened to expose an alleged $1.1million fraud committed against a Qatari businessman.
According to page 59, item 145 of the document, Kyari allegedly provided account details for a Nigerian bank (Zenith Bank), in the name of a person other than Kyari himself for the money transfer.
The FBI special Agent, Innocent, made the allegation in the ‘Criminal Complaint By Telephone Or Other Reliable Electronic Means’ filed before the United States District Court.
Detailing the events leading to the alleged payment, the document reads: “On January 16, 2020, Abbas sent a message to Kyari on WhatsApp, and then placed five calls to another phone number that was listed as ‘Abba Kyari’s. The call records showed that the last three of the calls were answered and one of the calls lasted for over two minutes.
“Shortly after that, Abbas received a message from Kyari, confirming ‘We would pick him today or tomorrow,’ and Abbas assured, ‘I will take care of the team also after they pick him up’ while Kyari confirmed ‘Yes ooo.”
The document further alleged that such was not the only time Abbas arranged payments with the Super Cop, Kyari, revealing that Abbas, on May 20, 2020, sent Kyari transaction receipts for two transactions from accounts at Nigerian banks (GTBank and Zenith Bank) of a person Abbas knew in the U.A.E.
It was learnt that the Dubai Police also arrested this facilitator whose Nigerian bank accounts were used for these transactions with Abbas in Abbas’ apartment in the U.A.E. on June 9, 2020.
The Guardian learnt that the amounts on the transaction receipts totalled N8 million, which was approximately $20,600 based on publicly available exchange rate information, according to the FBI inquest.
It was gathered that in an attempt to reason with Abbas, on January 18, 2020, Chibuzor recounted for Abbas all the assistance he had provided in the scheme to victimise the victim, including creating the power of attorney document, devising a story to tell the victim, and facilitating the creation of the telephone banking number and fake Wells Fargo website.
“On January 20, 2020, Kyari sent to Abbas biographical, identifying information for Chibuzor, along with a photograph of him. In a conversation, Abbas confirmed that ‘is him sir.’ Kyari stated, ‘We have arrested the guy. He is in my cell now. This is his picture after we arrested him today,” it read.
According to the document, Kyari then sent the biographical information about, and photograph of Chibuzor to Abbas, using two different WhatsApp numbers, the second of which, Kyari said was his private number.
“From that point on, Kyari and Abbas primarily discussed the arrest and detention of Chibuzor through WhatsApp. After receiving the photograph of Chibuzor, Abbas stated, ‘I want him to go through a serious beating of his life.’ Kyari responded, ‘Hahahaha,’ and Abbas replied, ‘Seriously sir,” the affidavit said.
According to the document, it was at this point that Kyari asked for details of what Chibuzor did on audio, which Kyari said was necessary for him to know what to do.
But in response to Kyari’s request, Abbas sent Kyari an audio message, which explained how the feud started, according to the FBI.
Abbas responded to Kyari in paragraph 141 of the Affidavit, saying, “What he did is, I have one job. The job want to pay me 500, umm, 75, 000 dollars [i.e., $575,000]. He went to message the job behind me because I told him to help me make one document for me to give the job. Then he went—he has a—I gave him the details. Then he went to message the job behind my back and try to divert the money and in this process he tell the job because of the documents he gave me that I gave the job, he tell the job,
“These documents they sent to you before. These people are fake. This money—is me who can help you to get it. Come to me let’s bring this money you want to pay these people to me. I’m the only one who can help you,” and all these things to divert the job for himself.
However, though Kyria has since denied having any such link with Abbas offering an unconvincing and terse defence, there appears to be overwhelming evidence to this conspiracy, which has further mocked the ever-damaged reputation of Nigerian Police Force.
In his defence, he said: “Abbas, who we later came to be known as Hushpuppi, called our office about two years ago that somebody in Nigeria seriously threatened to kill his family and he sent the person’s phone number and pleaded we take action before the person attacks his family.
“We traced and arrested the suspect and after investigations, we discovered there wasn’t an actual threat to anyone’s life and they are long time friends who have money issues between them, hence, we released the suspect on bail to go and he was not taken to any jail.
“Nobody demanded a kobo from Hushpuppi. Our focus was to save people’s lives that were purported to be threatened. Later, he saw some of my native clothes and caps on my social media page and he said he liked them and he was connected to the person selling the clothes and he sent about N300, 000 directly to the person’s account.
“The native clothes and caps (5 sets) were brought to our office and he sent somebody to collect them in our office. Nobody demanded any money from Abbas and nobody collected any money from him.
“We responded to a distress call he made on the threat to his family and released the suspect when we discovered there was no life threat from the suspect. This is the true story. Vincent is alive, he can be contacted…”