Abba Kyari and the wicked conspiracies
Some things happen that make you wonder if you are still in Nigeria or in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where it is said that some animals are more equal than others.
All those suspected to have committed a criminal offence to enjoy a common right under section 36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This is the reason why the super cop, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari is still in the police force as an officer. His career was meteoric, as with those of superheroes who come our way once in a lifetime. In the past, I grew up to learn that the word Abracadabra relates to multiple layers of surprises when the more you look, the less you see.
Exploring it further, I have since been made to understand that it actually belongs to Aramaic, a Semitic language that shares many of the same grammar rules as Hebrew. ‘Abra’ is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew ‘avra’, meaning ‘I will create’, whilst ‘cadabra’ is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew ‘kedoobar’, meaning ‘as was spoken’. Abracadabra is thus employed when magicians intend to conjure things into existence, in their strange world of make-belief. That is the scenario that has been created in the unfolding drama associated with the case of Abba Kyari.
From snippets of news reports, Abba Kyari began his ascent into the limelight with his appointment as the officer in charge of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Lagos State in January 2011. He went on to carve a niche for himself by busting syndicates of criminals – armed robbers, kidnappers, drug barons and internet fraudsters, amongst others. With family roots traced to Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State, Kyari was born on March 17, 1975, and grew up in Maiduguri, Borno State, where he was schooled to the university level. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography from the University of Maiduguri in 1997 and had his mandatory NYSC in Akwa Ibom State in 1998. He joined the Nigeria Police Force as Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police in 2000 and served at different times at Song, Girei and Numan local governments and made local news for his arrest of a notorious armed robber called ‘Ndagi’aka Spirit, who had held Numan, the third biggest town in Adamawa State hostage for years.
Kyari was the poster boy of the local law enforcement, the pride of a crime-fighting organisation that had lost touch with the people and was short of a real role model. He was being packaged as the future head of the force, as he bestrode the nation’s crime scene like an oriental potentate, picking off criminals like sitting ducks, hounding crooked elements into the clanger with precision, while employing untoward means to ensure his upward career trajectory. Kyari was the darling of the media, to the extent that almost all victims wanted his midas touch in handling their cases.
In a clime where the prototype of a typical policeman is the coarse gun-slinging, semi-literate hound with an expanding waistline, Kyari was the exact opposite. He was an urbane, suave, sophisticated and good looking cop who bestrode crime scenes with the confident aplomb of a matinee idol and omniscient allure of a divining deity. IGP upon IGP doted over him to help resolve very knotty crimes and the National Assembly would convene a special session for his recognition and national honour. For years, the senior police officer operated not only as a super cop with the proverbial magic wand for unraveling crime, but also a celebrity cop with his life and tasks, including very sensitive missions, blogging on Instagram, and other social media platforms.
It was thus heartbreaking for many of his fans when, in August 2021, details of Kyari’s close relationship with celebrity internet fraudster, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, alias Hushpuppi, were made public. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, which released as part of its probe into a $1.1 million fraud committed by the conman, indicted Kyari as a partner in the fraud. This would not be Kyari’s first controversy, however, as he and his team were once accused of human rights abuses, molesting suspects and converting confiscated property.
In the course of the arrest of the kidnapping lord Evans, it was alleged that Kyari and his boys pocketed substantial sums of foreign currency recovered from his house, which were not declared as exhibits. Kyari also made headlines during the Lagos EndSARS Panel proceedings when he was accused of extorting money from a suspect whom he investigated. Kyari denied all these allegations and he even managed to stay afloat in an organisation that was itself consumed by pervasive corruption and crass inefficiency, but it would not be long before his bubble burst.
Kyari was temporarily suspended from service and pencilled down for investigation, which went the normal Nigerian way. It would take the intervention of the Police Service Commission, for any hope of some meaningful discovery in the allegations against Kyari.
In the interval, Kyari attended very controversial social events, such as the burial of the mother of Cubana and that of the wedding of the daughter of his boss, the IGP, when he was supposed to be under investigation by the latter. Nigerians were gradually losing hope that anything meaningful would come out of Kyari’s probe when the news broke about the drug trafficking cartel. According to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Kyari was part of a notorious drug cartel operating the Brazil-Ethiopian route involving large drug hauls. From the initial report, Kyari was still in control of the IRS police team, through which he operated while on suspension. It was a bewildered nation watching the video of Kyari bringing out wads of U.S. Dollars for drug trafficking negotiations. The evidence was too overwhelming for any controversy and it sealed Kyari’s reputation as an expert in running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.
To be continued tomorrow
Adegboruwa is Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).