Abba Kyari: How poor handling of cases by Buhari Govt dampens hope of conviction

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Abba Kyari
Abba Kyari

Abba Kyari, the former head of the Police Intelligence Response Team was a toast of the Nigerian society before his link to the notorious fraudster, Ramon Abbas, also known as Hushpuppi, was made open.

In 2018, Mr Kyari was recognised as the “hero of the year” by the STV, where former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi spoke highly of him.

In 2020, the National Assembly gave him a standing ovation on the floor of the chamber, while the internet is littered with his pictures, with the high and the mighty. The media conferred on him the “super cop” tag.

Five years into the exit of Babachir Lawal, the disgraced former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, for grass cutting scandal, however, he is still walking free.

The ongoing prosecution of Bala Hamisu, also known as Wadume and the Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike also known as Evans, the billionaire kidnapper points to the slow process of prosecuting offenders.

The Muhammadu Buhari administration won the 2015 election on the anti-corruption wave, however, certain events in a couple of years have raised questions on the corruption campaign of the government.

While the government has been able to prosecute and get convictions for a number of high profile cases like Joshua Dariye, Jolly Nyame and James Ngilari, the government has been accused of selective prosecution.

Several politicians in the opposition party, who are facing corruption charges have also jumped to the ruling party.

Many believe that the defection of Godsday Orubebe, Femi Fani Kayode and several others are attempting to get the government off their backs.

It would be recalled that former Senator Shehu Sani had accused the government of using “perfume to fight corruption” in cases involving those close to the government.

The inability to prosecute cases of government officials have dampened the enthusiasm of Nigerians on the ability of the government to properly prosecute the former head of the Intelligence Response Team, Abba Kyari.

Mr Kyari, who is facing possible extradition to the US on cybercrime-related offences, is also under investigation for dealing in drugs and evidence tampering charges.

DAILY POST had reported that the offence Mr Kyari is accused of carries a life imprisonment term If convicted on the charges.

Reactions on social media on the suspended police officer has been mixed. While some praised the Director-General of NDLEA, Buba Marwa for the sting operation, some have expressed doubt that the narcotic charge is an attempt by the government to prevent the extradition of Mr Kyari.

The fact that Mr Kyari, despite his suspension could access the seized cocaine, is raising more questions on the police.

Henry Shield on Twitter said, “As a suspended Officer, how did Kyari gain access to seized cocaine? What is the Police not telling us?”

Although the police made the arrest and handed Mr Kyari over to the NDLEA for prosecution, and also suspended some other officers involved, the ability of Mr Kyari to gain access to evidence has fuelled conspiracy theories on social media.

Inibehe Effiong, a rights activist lawyer, told Daily Post that the case can only proceed to a reasonable conclusion if there is an inter-agency collaboration between the police and the NDLEA on the matter.

He stated that it would be preferable if Mr Kyari is extradited to the US first to face prosecution on the cybercrime related offences.

“The nature of the case against Abba Kyari is the one that requires inter-agency collaboration, but ultimately, it is the responsibility of the NDLEA to investigate the matter and reach a conclusion. We have consistently maintained that the proper thing to do is to extradite Abba Kyari to the US, to face trial, when that trial is concluded, he can be brought back to Nigeria to face the narcotic related charges.

“I do not believe the case should start with the NDLEA, that would be wrong because there is already a case against him in the US with the FBI, under Nigeria’s extradition act.

“So, the proper thing for the government to do is to allow the justice department’s investigation to run its full course. If he is convicted, the country under the legal mutual assistant treaty can now have Mr Abba Kyari brought back to Nigeria to serve his term for the conviction in the US. If he is acquitted, he can still be brought back to Nigeria to face charges on the case of drug-related matter that the NDLEA has brought against him,” he said.

Mr Effiong added that the arrest of Mr Kyari has not addressed the gap in the anti-corruption fight of the present administration.

“It depends on how serious the government is on pursuing the matter, to either prosecute him or not. If the government is serious about prosecuting him diligently, the right thing may be done. But if the government wants to play game with it, the outcome can be predicted.

“There is no evidence that the government is serious about corruption. As far as some of us are concerned, nobody is fighting corruption in Nigeria. Marwa has shown some semblance/willingness to handle the matter, that is not to say that the government is fighting corruption, the political will is not there,” he said.

A police officer, who spoke with DAILY POST, said the litany of accusation against Abba Kyari could make the police not to corporate with the investigation.

“The Nigeria Police has always been having image issues. Shining stars in the police does not happen daily, they come once in a while. The force was really proud of Kyari, but with all the scandals now, it is hard to tell.

“If you go through the letter by IGP, and you read in-between the line, you will see that the police are trying to point accusing fingers to men of the NDLEA,” he said.

He noted that since the NDLEA is prosecuting the case under the NDLEA act, the matter could get a speedy hearing.

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