Hushpuppi: Finally, PSC Suspends Kyari

Hushpuppi: Finally, PSC Suspends Kyari
  • Extradition subject to AGF’s discretion
  • EFCC, ICPC silent

Dauda Ismail

Following the indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, of Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Abba Alhaji Kyari, conspiring with Hushpuppi and others to commit wire fraud, the Police Service commission, PSC, has suspended Kyari.

In a statement on Sunday, Ikechukwu Ani, spokesman of the commission, said Kyari’s suspension took effect from Saturday. According to a statement issued during the weekend. “Abba Kyari’s suspension took effect from Saturday, July 31st  2021 and would subsist pending the outcome of the investigation in respect of his indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States,” Ani said.

“The commission has also directed the Inspector General of Police to furnish it with information on further development on the matter for necessary further action. The Commission’s decision which was conveyed in a letter with reference, PSC/POL/D/153/vol/V/138 to the Inspector General of Police today, Sunday, August 1st, 2021, was signed by Hon. Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Honourable Commissioner 1 in the Commission for the Commission’s Chairman, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, a retired Inspector General of Police who is currently on leave.”

This suspension was pursuantr to the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba’s recommendation of the immediate suspension of DCP Abba Kyari, the Head of the Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, from the Service of the Nigeria Police Force, pending the outcome of an ongoing internal investigation touching on him.

In the FBI indictment, Mr Kyari, a deputy commissioner of police, is alleged to have conspired with Hushpuppi “together with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, knowingly conspiring to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.” He along with others is also accused of conducting financial transactions involving proceeds of unlawful activity, and aiding and abetting illegal use and transfer of a means of identification. “Using the phone number +2348120000043 – which ABBAS had saved as “ABBA KYARI NEW NUMB”- KYARI sent several images of himself to ABBAS in April and May 2020,” the document stated.

Others named along with Mr Kyari in the indictment are: Abdulrahman Juma (aka Abdul and Rahman), Kelly Chibuzo Vincent, Rukayat Motunrayo Fashola (aka Morayo), Bolatito Takakalitu Agbabiaka (aka Bolamide), and Yusuf Adeyinka Anifowoshe (aka AJ and Alvin Johnson). They are all named in a $1.1 million fraud coordinated by Hushpuppi and others against a businessperson in Qatar between November 2019 and April 2020.

Kyari’s participation

Hushpuppi, a resident of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, UAE, until his arrest in June 2020, had contacted Mr Kyari to arrange the arrest of one of the arrowheads of the heist, Chibuzo (Vincent), who was unhappy over his share of the proceeds of the fraud, and was prepared to hint the victim, a Qatari businessperson, to stop payments. After Consulting with JUMA, ABBAS Arranged to Have KYARI Imprison CHIBUZO in Nigeria in Retaliation for, and to Prevent Him from, Trying to Coopt the Victim Businessperson

“As discussed in paragraph 120, JUMA and ABBAS had a falling out  with CHIBUZO after CHIBUZO felt that he was being underpaid (or had not been paid) for work on the fake Wells Fargo website, and then contacted the Victim Businessperson directly. ABBAS then arranged to have KYARI arrest and imprison CHIBUZO in Nigeria for attempting to redirect fraudulent proceeds intended for ABBAS and JUMA to himself, to keep CHIBUZO from interfering with the scheme. This section discusses those events and KYARI’s involvement in the conspiracy.

“On January 13, 2020, the Victim Businessperson contacted JUMA about a person who had contacted the Victim Businessperson about the loan, stating “This number is calling me but I didn’t answer.” The Victim.

Businessperson also provided JUMA a screenshot of and forwarded additional conversations between the Victim Businessperson and CHIBUZO, who was using  the U.S. phone number 3054405586. That phone number was the same phone number used by CHIBUZO to send ABBAS information about the fake Wells.

Fargo website described earlier. In the messages, CHIBUZO sent the Victim Businessperson’s passport, and claimed to be “trying to help” the Victim Businessperson.

“JUMA forwarded these messages from the Victim Businessperson to ABBAS, who responded, “I will deal with him.” At approximately the same time, ABBAS asked CHIBUZO for a phone number on which to call him. Two minutes later, ABBAS sent the phone number on which he contacted CHIBUZO (which CHIBUZO had previously also sent to ABBAS) to KYARI without providing any 52 additional context. Just before forwarding the phone number to KYARI, ABBAS placed a nearly five-minute call to KYARI, using the phone number described in paragraph 136. “A short time later, ABBAS told JUMA, “setting him up already. He will learn.” JUMA replied, “He almost messed it up bro,” to which ABBAS responded “They are working on it already.”

“Approximately an hour later, CHIBUZO responded to ABBAS’ message requesting his phone number by providing another phone number.  ABBAS also sent this number to KYARI without providing any additional context in the message. On January 15, 2020, this time using WhatsApp, ABBAS sent an audio recording to KYARI, stating, essentially, that he wanted to remind KYARI  about what they discussed earlier.

“On January 16, 2020, ABBAS sent the following threats to CHIBUZO: *I dey always tell people to think well before they offend me and make sure they fit stand the consequences when the time comes. I won’t say more than that but very soon, very very soon, the wrath of my hands shall find you and when it does, it will damage you forever. At this point I no get discussion with you, u have committed a crime that won’t be forgiven, that is punishable and you shall receive die punishment in due time. I swear with my life you will regret messing with me, you will even wish you died before my hands will touch you.

“Also on January 16, 2020, ABBAS sent a message to KYARI on WhatsApp, and then placed five calls to another phone number (+2348060733588) that was listed as “ABBA KYARI.” Call records show that the last three of the calls were answered and that one of the calls lasted more than two minutes.

Shortly after that, ABBAS received a message from KYARI, confirming “We would pick him today or tomorrow.” ABBAS wrote, “I will take care of the team also after they pick him up.” KYARI confirmed “Yes ooo”.

a. Based on the conversation described in paragraphs 143 to 145, ABBAS planned to pay the Nigeria Police Force officers who arrested CHIBUZO for that service.

b. This was not the only time that ABBAS arranged payments with KYARI. On May 20, 2020, ABBAS 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.—a person also arrested with ABBAS in ABBAS’ apartment in the U.A.E. by Dubai Police on June 9, 2020 – to the Nigerian bank accounts of another person in Nigeria. The amounts on the transaction receipts totaled 8 million Nigerian Naira, which was approximately $20,600 based on publicly available exchange rate information.

“Attempting to reason with ABBAS, on January 18, 2020, CHIBUZO recounted for ABBAS all the assistance he had provided in the scheme to victimize the Victim Businessperson, including creating the “power of attorney” document (see paragraphs 67–68), devising a story to tell the Victim Businessperson (see paragraph 117), and facilitating the creation of the “telephone banking” number (see paragraphs 109–116) and fake Wells Fargo website (see paragraph 117).

“As discussed in paragraph 32.b, on January 20, 2020, KYARI sent to ABBAS biographical, identifying information for CHIBUZO, along with a photograph of him. In a conversation immediately following, ABBAS confirmed, “that is him sir.” KYARI stated, “We have arrested the guy . . . He is in my Cell 54 now. This is his picture after we arrested him today.” (The below image is a cropped version of the photograph that KYARI sent to ABBAS).

“KYARI sent the biographical information about, and photograph of, CHIBUZO 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 KYARI through WhatsApp on this “private number”.

“After receiving the photograph of CHIBUZO, ABBAS stated, “I want him to go through a serious beating of his life.” KYARI responded, “Hahahaha,” and ABBAS replied, “Seriously sir.”  KYARI then asked for details about what CHIBUZO did “on audio,” which KYARI said was “So that we will know what to do”.

“In response to KYARI’s question about what CHIBUZO had done to ABBAS, ABBAS sent KYARI an audio message, which is transcribed here, describing how CHIBUZO had tried to steal away a fraud victim (i.e., “the job”) from him: *What he did is, I have one job. The job wants 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 le—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.

“After listening to the message, KYARI wrote, “Ok I understand. But he has not succeeded.” ABBAS claimed CHIBUZO had taken some money, and provided KYARI with two screenshots, one of which contained the phone number 3054405586 (the phone number CHIBUZO used to contact the Victim Businessperson). The screenshots showed a person contacting the Victim Businessperson and stating that he was providing information to try to “help” the Victim Businessperson. KYARI responded, “Yeah I understand.” KYARI did not request other information or evidence relating to CHIBUZO’s role in the scheme, ask questions about the nature of the transaction, or ask about why CHIBUZO told the Victim Businessperson that ABBAS was fake”.

“ABBAS then told KYARI, “Now the [Victim Businessperson] was skeptic to pay me the money cos he keeps attacking the [Victim Businessperson] from his end. Now I can handle the [VictimB usinessperson] correctly.” ABBAS further told KYARI that he wanted to pay money to send CHIBUZO to jail for a long time, stating “Please sir I want to spend money to send this boy to jail, let him go for a very long time.” KYARI responded, “Ok bro, I understand, I will discuss with my team who arrested him . . . And handling the case. We will do something about it.”

“ABBAS responded, “Let me know how I can send money to the team sir[.] let them deal with him like an armed robber.” KYARI responded, “OK I will send their account details to you.” ABBAS further wrote, “He betrayed me and tried to take food out my mouth, this is a great punishable sin,” and KYARI responded, “Yeah bro.” ABBAS then continued, “I want him to suffer for many years.” KYARI responded, “Hahahaha  Hahahaha.”

“Approximately six minutes later, KYARI provided the account information for a bank account at a Nigerian bank, Zenith Bank, in the name of a person other than KYARI himself. ABBAS responded “Ok sir, tomorrow by noon,” indicating that he would make the payment to KYARI’s team by the next day.

“On the same day, ABBAS sent JUMA the photograph of CHIBUZO in custody, which KYARI had sent. Approximately a month later, on February 19, 2020, KYARI sent a message to ABBAS, saying, “Hello hush with [sic] need to talk about the subject under detention with me.” ABBAS asked “Should I call u on this number sir?” to which KYARI replied “Yes call me”.

“The following day, KYARI sent ABBAS multiple photographs of CHIBUZO to ABBAS, including close-up photographs showing a rash or skin disease on CHIBUZO’s torso and arms. ABBAS responded, “I don pity am, make them leave am from Tuesday.” KYARI wrote, “Ok bro, they just brought him from hospital. The fever and the rashes is giving him serious Wahala. He got the disease from other suspects in the cell.” ABBAS responded, “I see am, I no too pity am. That’s what people like him deserve but I go forgive am for God sake.”

Charges

The three charges approved by the U.S. grand jury included an allegation that Mr Kyari “together with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, knowingly conspired to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343”.

The grand jury alleged in the second count that they conducted and attempted “to conduct financial transactions, affecting interstate and foreign commerce, knowing that the property involved in the financial transactions represented the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, which, in fact, involved the proceeds of specified unlawful activity — namely, wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343”.

They were also said to have aided and abetted one another and knowingly in transferring, possessing and using, without lawful authority, a means of identification that each defendant knew belonged to another person, during and in relation to a felony violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, as charged in Count 1.

Meanwhile, reliable sources have confided in AljazirahNigeria that the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Usman Alkali Baba and DCP Abba Kyari are daring the FBI. “You should know that the IGP and the police hierarchy will do everything to protect the image of Nigeria, because an indictment on the person of DCP Abba Kyari on corruption charges will be a smear on the face of Nigeria with the position Kyari holds and with all the accolades and awards he has won across the country, with the House of Reps giving him such recognition. So I think it is in order for the IGP to exercise his powers over his officers, but in this case it will be tantamount to daring the FBI. With the role America plays as the police of the world, and as an ally of Nigeria and bound by the extradition law, the said extradition should have taken place without much ado except that the Attorney General who has the power to consent to the request is not willing to.”

In an appeal filed before the Court of Appeal in Lagos by one George Chidebe Udeozor against the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the extradition request of Senator Buruji Kasamu, which lead judgment was delivered on June 9, 2004 by Justice Dongban Mensem, the issue of extradition treaty between Nigeria and United States of America was one of the four grounds of appeal. In this case, Nigerians await the AGF’s action.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, is said to be mounting pressure on the IGP, Usman Baba, to provide deputy commissioner of police, Abba Kyari, to face fraud-related charges in the United States. It was learnt that operatives of the FBI visited the IGP on Thursday, July 29 and Friday July 30 to convince him to release the police officer for trial.

But the IP, in his letter to the Police Service Commission, dated 31st July 2021, signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba, the IGP noted that the recommendation for the suspension of the officer is in line with the internal disciplinary processes of the Force.

He revealed through the letter that “The suspension is also expected to create an enabling environment for the NPF Special Investigation Panel to carry out its investigations into the weighty allegations against DCP Abba Kyari without interference. The suspension is without prejudice to the constitutional presumption of innocence in favour of the officer,” he stated.

A senior police source told AljazirahNigeria that the suspended DCP Kyari would be released for extradition if found guilty of the cases against him. He said there is a procedure for such cases, which involve investigation as has been ordered by the IGP. He also said at the end of the investigation, if the officer is found guilty, the US government would write to the Nigerian government which would then release the officer to answer for his crime in the US. He however disclosed that such extradition is subject to the discretion of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF.

A statement by the United States Attorney’s office, Central District of Califonia, titled, “Six indicted in international scheme to defraud Qatari school founder and then launder over N1 million in illicit proceeds” disclosed Kyari’s indictment. Hushpuppi was charged by detectives at the Bur Dubai section for obtaining money through fraudulent means and, thereafter, extradited to the United States of America, where the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, began fresh investigation and prosecution. He was charged in an American court, where he pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, through money laundering. But whether his alleged co-conspirator, DCP Abba Kyari will be found guilty and eventually prosecuted is yet to be seen.

But even as this issue has dominated national discourse owing to its ability to drag the name of Nigeria into further quagmire, the nation’s anti- graft agencies – Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, are yet to comment on the subject.


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