By Nkasi Kolie
February 14, 2022, will ever remain indelible in the minds of many people who know much about the travails of Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari. Although it was Valentine’s Day, a day set aside to mark lovers’ day worldwide, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) dropped a bombshell when it declared Kyari as a wanted man that day. Kyari, acclaimed ‘super cop,’ the poster boy of the Nigeria Police Force and former head of the IGP’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT), was declared wanted for alleged drug peddling.
Before the drugs brouhaha, Kyari had been on the radar of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for complicity in the activities of a suspected Nigerian Internet fraudster, Ramon Abass, popularly known as Hushpuppi.
Consequent on the allegation, IGP Usman Alkali Baba suspended Kyari and set up a panel, headed by Deputy Inspector-General of Police Joseph Ogbuji. Just as the panel submitted its’ report, and while the IGP and his team were looking into the recommendations, the unexpected happened as the NDLEA declared Kyari wanted, with damning evidence to prove its case.
The NDLEA alleged that Kyari was involved in a drug deal and the IGP did not waste time in ordering the arrest of Kyari and four other police officers, including his second in command, Sunny Obua.
According to the NDLEA’S director of media and advocacy Mr. Femi Babafemi, Kyari was involved in 25 kilogrammes cocaine deal that necessitated the agency declaring him wanted, having failed to honour formal invitations for his interrogation. Babafemi stated that intelligence at the agency’s disposal pointed strongly to Kyari being a member of a drug cartel that operates the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria drug route, and he had to answer questions that cropped up in ongoing investigations into a drug case in which he was the principal actor.
By the account of the NDLEA, there were attempts to compromise drug law enforcement officials after the operatives had intercepted and arrested some traffickers from Ethiopia with 25kg of cocaine.
When the NDLEA broke the news, the IGP ordered the arrest of Kyari and his alleged accomplices and handed them over to the NDLEA for investigation.
To clear any doubts or scepticism on the commitment of the IGP to a proper investigation, the acting Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, stated that the IGP was against any form of arrogance and impunity and ordered the arrest and transfer of all the indicted police officers to the NDLEA for conclusive investigation, while appropriate disciplinary actions are also being initiated against them by the police leadership.
The IGP immediately set up an investigative team to verify the claims concerning the drug deal and, during their investigation, it was discovered that the incriminating video recording of Kyari and the decoy NDLEA agent’s transaction was not fake. The discovery led to the invitation of Kyari, who, reports said, admitted to being the man in the video.
The panel went as far as inviting the head of the IRT, DCP Tunji Disu, and his deputy Obua. Disu denied ever participating in such a business deal as he was in Sokoto within the period under review.
The panel turned to Disu’s second in command, Obuah, who, incidentally, was also Kyari’s second in command before he was suspended as head of the IRT. Ubua was said to have confessed to the crime. With the Investigation completed, the panel submitted its report. Kyari and others were arrested and handed over to the NDLEA.
As the watching world awaits developments on the case, rights activist, Comrade Mark Chidozie, said he was impressed so far by the IGP’s action in not shielding Kyari and his alleged accomplices in the police.
Said Chidozie, “When the controversial issue of Hushpuppi came up, some people thought that, considering Kyari’s usefulness to the force and his tribe, the IGP would overlook the issue, but little did we know that he had already set up a panel of inquiry, where Kyari was invited many times for questioning. While the police leadership was looking into recommendations by the panel, Kyari was again indicted in a more serious crime, drugs.
“What impressed me was that, immediately, the IGP ordered his arrest and, within four hours, he had handed him over to NDLEA for due diligence. The IGP is really a man of integrity. He could have done like some of his predecessors did by engaging in inter-agency rivalry and shielding Kyari and other indicted officers.”
Chidozie, who commended the IGP for his good work, called on the Federal Government to give him the necessary support as the police boss had shown that he was incorruptible and would not condone unprofessional and unethical practices in the force.
He also called on corporate organizations and good-spirited Nigerians to support the police,IGP through donations to the Nigeria Police.
Beaming more light on the issue, security consultant and analyst, Mr. Adim Ngezu, explained that the IGP showed strong, upright leadership with his thoroughness in handling Kyari’s alleged involvement in a drugs crime. He said, “Many were expecting inter-agency rivalry between NDLEA and the police, but the IGP took the shock and handled the matter with maturity. He dramatized serious leadership, which is why he always emphasized community policing and collaboration with all other sister agencies.”
For popular musician, Hycento Junior, “The present IGP is a motivator who believes in credible leadership, driven by professionalism and strategic planning, all directed at stabilizing internal security challenges and mordernising police operations within the framework of citizens’ consent, trust and the rule of law.
“I don’t want to mention names but I know of a certain government organization that would have refused to hand over indicted officers to other agencies. But the IGP did wonderfully well by showing that he believes in democracy, fairness, justice and equity. He showed that he was a professional and believed in the principle of rule of law and due diligence. What would have happened if he had listened to the advice of some people not to hand over Kyari and others to NDLEA?
“The IGP should not be discouraged by comments of some people who want to politicise security matters. Security must not be politicised but be treated professionally to bring returns that will benefit the masses. I want the IGP to know that handing over Kyari and four others to NDLEA has averted inter-agency rivalry, and that was the best thing that the IGP could have done for peace to reign.
“Members of the public should always support the police by giving them information that would lead to the arrest of criminals.”
A woman leader in Delta State, Tessy Maduka, told our correspondent that she had come across a lot of claims in the social media that Kyari’s arrest was a ploy to not extradite him to the USA to face the FBI. She said such stories were ridiculous “because the issue of drug is a worse sin than that of Hushpuppi.”
“That is why I am encouraging the workaholic IGP not to be distracted but be focused, as he has done well by handing over Kyari and his alleged accomplices to NDLEA. What else do people want the IGP to do? He did not keep quiet on the issue, as he immediately set up an Investigative team and also handed him and other officers to the appropriate quarters without trying to cover up. Do people want him to shield such officers? I say capital NO. The IGP has done well”.