Abba Kyari: The Nigerian super sleuth wanted in the US – BBC News

By Nduka Orjinmo
BBC News, Lagos

Abba Kyari has a reputation in Nigeria as a "super cop".
He is a highly decorated police officer who investigates big criminal cases. And he hangs out with politicians and celebrities.
But Mr Kyari's reputation has come under scrutiny since US law enforcement agencies indicated that he is wanted over allegations of links to Instagram influencer and fraudster Ray Hushpuppi.
The policeman denies any wrongdoing.
For Mr Kyari's critics, the allegations come as no surprise. They point out that the 46-year-old – feted by President Muhammadu Buhari as a hero – has in the past faced allegations of corruption and human rights abuses in Nigeria.
Mr Kyari, who holds the post of deputy commissioner dismissed all the claims as false, and no action was ever taken against him in relation to the allegations.
Ken Henshaw, head of We The People, a human rights organisation, said Mr Kyari had been rewarded by a system based on patronage which, in some cases, even punished people with integrity.
"The accusations against him are consistent with those that have been established against the Nigeria police, and its top-ranking officers in the past," said Mr Henshaw.
But the Nigeria Police Commission has been forced to suspend Mr Kyari.
This came after US officials dropped a bombshell last week by announcing that they had instituted indictment proceedings against him following allegations that he facilitated payments to Nigeria police personnel from Hushpuppi, whose real name is Ramon Abbas.
The BBC has approached Mr Kyari for comment.
Hushpuppi – who had 2.4 million followers on Instagram – pleaded guilty to money laundering in the US after being extradited from Dubai last year.
Posing as a real estate developer in the Gulf state, the 37-year-old Nigerian often posted images of his lavish lifestyle, and had a category of videos called Flexing – social media lingo for showing off.
But he had, in fact, been part of a global cybercrime syndicate that defrauded organisations and individuals of almost $24m (£17m), court documents allege.
US officials allege in an affidavit that Hushpuppi got Mr Kyari to arrest Vincent Chibuzor, with whom he had fallen out.
Mr Kyari allegedly sent Hushpuppi details of a bank account to deposit payment for the arrest, the statement said.
A now deleted response on his Facebook page described the allegations as "false" and said Hushpuppi was only paying for clothes that had been made for him.
"He saw some of my Native Clothes and Caps on my social media page and he said he likes them," he had apparently posted on Facebook, adding that Hushpuppi sent money for the tailor.
A US court document submitted by the FBI shows details of alleged WhatsApp chats between the policeman and the Instagram celebrity-cum-fraudster.
The purported messages allege that Hushpuppi paid 8m naira ($19,000; £14,000) into accounts linked to the Nigerian police whose details were provided by Mr Kyari, to detain Mr Chibuzor.
In one message, Hushpuppi allegedly said: "Let me know how I can send money to the team sir. Let them deal with him like armed robber," to which Mr Kyari reportedly responded: "OK I will send their account details to u."
Mr Kyari also denied this in the deleted Facebook post.
"Nobody demanded any money from… Hushpuppi and nobody collected any money from him."
Instead, he said, he was responding to a distress call from Hushpuppi who claimed there had been a threat made to his family.
Mr Kyari is one of the most decorated police officers that Nigeria has ever had.
He received a presidential medal of courage from Mr Buhari in 2016 after his team rescued three kidnapped school girls in Lagos.
He was also honoured by the Lagos state government, winning the top award for gallantry three years in a row between 2011 and 2013.
His team is the "go to" unit for high-profile cases.
When the convoy of the governor of Benue state was ambushed by suspected cattle herders in March, they were dispatched to track down the attackers.
Mr Kyari's team was also called in when the mother of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), was kidnapped in 2015.
He has harnessed the power of social media to showcase his police triumphs and lifestyle and could be mistaken for an Instagram influencer.
A post shared by DCP Abba Kyari (@abbakyari75)
His page is a celebration of glitz and glamour.
There are pictures of him with film stars, politicians and even one with Nigeria's global music icon Davido. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by any of them.
But some say there is another side to Mr Kyari.
As recently as December, a businessman, Afeez Mojeed, accused him of extortion. He was giving evidence at the Lagos judicial panel investigating the defunct Sars police unit, notorious for extrajudicial killings.
At the time, Mr Kyari was second in command of Sars in Lagos. The policeman was accused of detaining Mr Mojeed in 2014 and taking money from him.
Mr Kyari's lawyer denied that he had done anything wrong.
In 2019, Nigeria's independent National Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International accused Mr Kyari of using assets confiscated from a suspected kidnapper, who had been killed by another police unit, for his personal benefit.
Again, Mr Kyari denied any wrongdoing, and told news website Premium Times that as a policeman he had the legal "powers to confiscate the properties without a court order".
Mr Kyari first came to national prominence when his team arrested a suspected kidnap kingpin in 2017. But he was also accused by the suspect of extorting money from him and abusing women connected to him.
The policeman denied the accusations and said the kidnap suspect, who is currently standing trial, had tried to bribe him.
Mr Henshaw acknowledged that as "nothing came out" of the cases against Mr Kyari in Nigeria, he should be extradited to the US to stand trial for his alleged links with Hushpuppi.
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