There is a famous Yoruba aphorism that exhorts that he who hopes to avoid burns and blisters, must not be seen dripping with inflammable oil, lounging around the fireplace. It would seem this proverb is most apposite to the situation of Abba Kyari, the once-upon-a-time celebrity cop, who has been in the eye of the storm since last year. Allegations of complicity in monetary gratification were leveled against him, by Ramon Abbas known by the alias “Hushpuppy,” a renowned internet fraudster.
Kyari, who until this revelation July last year, was commander of the elite intelligence response team (IRT) of the inspector general of police, a deputy commissioner of police (DCP), as at the time his ordeal became public knowledge.
He has been hailed as perhaps the most festooned cop in contemporary Nigerian intelligence and security history. I wrote a piece on the Abba Kyari saga, titled ‘Abba Kyari and the festival of a thousand knives’, which was published by The Guardian on August 22, 2021.
Hushpuppy’s contention, that he gifted Kyari $21,000 for some favour which the latter obliged him en route to the consummation of a $1.1 million scam, has since opened up a plethora of inquisitions.
Kyari has been on the dissection table of the Nigerian and international community who are deploying their kaleidoscopes to ferret the cop’s professional exertions over the years, his public comportment, and questionable lifestyle.
While America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from its California office has since filed for Kyari’s extradition to face charges in the United States, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) equally set up an investigation panel, chaired by Joseph Egbunike, a deputy inspector general of police (DIG) to interrogate the development.
Kyari was spontaneously suspended from office by the IGP, Alkali Usman Baba, to make room for the transparent conduct of the inquest. Four weeks after the inauguration of the panel, Egbunike on August 27, 2021, submitted the report to Baba, who speedily queried Abba Kyari for “infractions noticed in his exchanges with Ramon Abbas, the suspected internet fraudster, against procedures of engagement of the police force”.
Police Affairs minister, Maigari Dingyadi, a few weeks later confirmed in a television chat that the recommendations on Kyari had been transmitted to the attorney general of the federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) for legal guidance.
Dissatisfied by the quality of the same report, the Police Service Commission (PSC) on January 27, 2022, returned the document to the IGP for further investigation and clarification, with specific reference to the question of Kyari’s indictment, by the FBI.
The chairman of the PSC, Musiliu Smith, himself a former IGP, gave a two-week timeframe for the inquisition to be concluded and reverted. Feelers emerged, that the Egbunike panel, among others, proposed the demotion of Abba Kyari from his rank as DCP to the level of assistant commissioner of police (ACP) among other disciplinary measures. He was found guilty of hobnobbing with persons of question- able character and for violating police professional ethics.
There has indeed been clamour from certain quarters that a holistic inquest of Abba Kyari’s career is under-taken, including his role as commander of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS) in Lagos, which was fingered in many cases of extrajudicial despatch of innocent persons. His role in similar operations in the restive southeastern part of the country, where he led engagements between the police and belligerents of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) has also been thrown up recently.
There has been some quiet in the public sphere regarding the Abba Kyari trajectory even as Nigerians and the global community anticipate the aggregate conclusion of the multilevel distillation of the matter. This was until a few weeks back when Kyari made a public appearance in Maiduguri, Borno state, at the wedding ceremony of Maina Baba, son of the IGP.
The social media-crazy Kyari who has refused to draw the line between his job as an intelligence cop who should be in the recesses of activities and a stuntman who courts the klieg lights, foolishly splashed photographs of his Maiduguri outing on Facebook, Instagram, and other mediums, in otherwise avoidable self-edification.
Perhaps, just perhaps if Kyari had surfaced at the programme as “nicodemously” as possible, to borrow from the lexicon of one of my friends, he would not have attracted as much attention. Unfortunately, however, Kyari attended the event in the company of the now-famous Obinna Iyiegbu, better known as Obi Cubana. Cubana is the controversial young business-man whose mother’s fairytale internment last year, further emblazoned Nigeria on the global pedestal of profligate grandeur, consumptive buffoonery, and narcissistic exhibitionism.
This is in a country that has been serially voted the poverty capital of the world, especially under the incumbent administration. It is in this same country, where Obi Cubana and his friends, committed over N1 billion, on the talk-of-the-town funeral of Cubana’s mother. The world was regaled with, and regularly updated about that quantum investment in idiocy, of that carnival of obscenity, courtesy of reports and bulletins on terrestrial platforms.
At that event, Kyari was pictured wearing the same apparel with Cubana, his family members, and a coterie of close friends and associates. Videos of him dancing animatedly at that function, where Nigerian currency notes were so blatantly disrespected, despised, and danced upon, were all over the internet.
For a senior law enforcement officer to be recorded in such compromising proximity to a controversial Obinna Iyiegbu who was recently invited for a chat with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) leaves much to be desired. Kyari’s stuttering response to preliminary queries about that manner of association to the effect that he was contracted by Cubana to make clothes for him to the tune of N300,000 didn’t cut with discerning followers of that gaffe.
A few days ago, Abba Kyari got himself into the news again. He was not attending a wedding or featuring in another service of songs. Rather, the NDLEA accused him of being an accomplice to a drug ring, which operates on the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria route, peddling deadly substances, notably cocaine. Kyari who should officially be on a long subsisting suspension, was reportedly, still profiting from the loyalty of his diehard accomplices in the police.
These include Sunday Ubuah, an ACP; Bawa James, an assistant superintendent of police, (ASP); Simon Arigba, a police inspector and John Nuhu, among others. John Umoru, also a key member of the Abba Kyari gang, who goes by the nickname “Too much money“, is said to be at large. Kyari’s associates report developments on the field to him and take directives from him on matters of courier interception, pseudo-confiscation, and roundtripping.
Femi Babafemi, the spokesman of the NDLEA, posited that the most recent transaction involving Abba Kyari, occurred on January 19, 2022, at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu. Kyari reportedly engaged with an Abuja-based NDLEA official, to the effect that his own team (Kyari’s) and the NDLEA operative, will benefit mutually from the Enugu haul.
Kyari turned up with $61,000 on Monday, January 24, 2022, to fulfill his pledge to his supposed collaborator. Unknown to Kyari, the NDLEA officer was merely playing along even as he kept goading Kyari, who would subsequently be filmed presenting the bribe to the NDLEA spook, while the transaction was being consummated in a supposedly anonymous location.
Kyari attended the meeting on Monday, January 24, 2022, in a bulletproof Toyota Landcruiser 5.7. Except for the president and his deputy, state governors, security, and intelligence top shots, armour-plated vehicles are the sole preserve of the affluent. Kyari and his collaborators have since been arrested by police authorities and handed over to the NDLEA, even as the story of the poster boy of the Nigeria Police Force, assumed a new twist.
There are insinuations, that the most recent dimension to the Kyari conundrum may be a ploy to help Kyari circumvent FBI summons in the US. Extradition laws, we understand, cannot be exercised or enforced on indicted persons, standing trial for substantive issues in their home country.
It has emerged that Kyari has received gratification running into hundreds of millions of naira from his underhand dealings, over time, through proxies. These include an unnamed younger brother and a certain Hussein Ala, who operates an account in one of the high-profile banks.
Abba Kyari reportedly lives in the same district in Abuja, the new haven of the rich and powerful, which is rapidly becoming the “Banana Island” of the federal capital territory. One of his siblings, Usman, last year, posted a photograph of Abba Kyari’s car garage. The array of automobiles he displayed must be the envy of many nouveau riche.
Whether the new perspective to the Abba Kyari story is contrived or not, will unravel before our very eyes, hopefully, someday. It is bad enough to have been found complicit in internet fraud. It is worse to be fingered as the face of the drug business. Nigerians will be interested to know Abba Kyari’s clientele in the drug business, the end-users of his deathly merchandise.
This desire is accentuated by the recent youth indulgence in killer substances such as “Colorado” and mpuru mmiri. Abba Kyari will most possibly be documented in the column of the odium of our collective memory. It is as clear as daylight that the young man, who turns 47 next month, is a victim of his insatiable greed and vaunting ambition. He wants to gobble his cake, while at the same time, warehousing it.
Those who know the inside workings of the police, inform us that the system has, matter of factly, shown gratitude to Kyari for his “exploits and good work” in the past. He has been gifted accelerated promotions which have catapulted him two ranks beyond his peers. He has betrayed that special privilege. This is not aggregating the several honours, prizes, and awards the police have made possible for him.
Abba Kyari desired to continue to enjoy the esteem his service and position confer on him, even while continuing to ingratiate himself with questionable characters and filthy lucre. Video clips of his rancid, raunchy appearances in pubs and nightclubs, are streaming in the media. He failed to understand that you cannot be a dog and a bat at the same time, you just have to be decisive.
It is not unlikely that facsimiles like Abba Kyari exist in different departments of our national life, in the uniformed services, or elsewhere. May they be found out in the marketplace, sooner than later. For all the adulation and plaudits we collectively invested in Abba Kyari, he has very, unfortunately, turned out a monumental catastrophe.
In envisioning a Nigeria police of the future, and otherwise selfless, formidable, and fearless professional, in the mold of Abba Kyari, would have been our collective desire. Abba Kyari, conversely, reminds us of the Shakespearean admonition that there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face. The ofiosis of his putrefaction, stinks to high heavens.