By Obi Nwakanma
So, come dawn, and light shines on all dark and hidden corners. This is the situation now with a man who has been given what may turn out to be an unearned title, “super cop” – Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abbas Kyari. DCP Kyari seems to have landed in deep trouble with the American Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI.
From all indications, the FBI has applied to the Nigerian authorities for his extradition.
The latest news says the Inspector General of Police in Nigeria has ordered a full investigation of the bribery story involving Mr Kyari.
It is a rather perfunctory, face-saving move by the Nigerian police boss. Just routine. The Americans wat Mr Kyari. And hey will have Mr Kyari served to them on a platter.
If the allegations against him prove to be true, then indeed, it might be the end of what should have been a shining and brilliant career.
It would also prove to be the end of a reputation built on a most elaborate kind of gimmickry or image-laundering that had little substance beyond the typically Nigerian tendency to put the Iwuye leaves on the worst among us.
This copper would be no more than the same bad coin recruited, trained, minted, and deployed by the Nigerian police system, a most corrupt and deviant institution, to quarantine Nigeria and Nigerians.
There is no easy way of putting this: the Nigerian Police Force is a corrupt organization, period. Here’s the story. It is linked to one of the most colourful cybercriminals Nigeria has ever spawned: Ramonu Abbas, known to the world now as “Hushpuppi.” A truly poopy sort of character. Crass. Arriviste. Loud.
A crime lord who rolls about with such glitter that he makes Obi Cubana pale in exhibitionism. Even Reuben Abati could surely see that; the difference between Obi Cubana being that Cubana apparently works very hard for his pile, while Hushpuppi is a con.
Until this came to light, he was what these days is generally called “an influencer,” a new category of folks who are really very busy doing nothing. They have made a virtue of modelling the crass consumerist lifestyle of this generation raised on fakery; incapable of language; whose attention span is as long as a very short and fragmented sentence.
These “influencers” sell illusions. And that was precisely what Ramonu Abbas sold, and made a killing with duping quite a handful of people, of their hard-earned life savings. Then last year, he was arrested in the United Arab Emirate -in Dubai, that city of illusions and of a Thousand Night dreams built to code for “influencers.”
When the local police raided his apartment in Dubai, they found about $41 million in cash, thirteen luxury cars which CNN reports are valued at $6.8 million, phones and computers containing evidence of his massive schemes and a database of his preys.
Hushpuppi was arrested alongside his wingman, Olalekan Ponle, handed to the FBI who had been on their trail, and they were flown to Los Angeles to face trial.
He is now charged with wire fraud, money laundering, and various other Email Business Compromise schemes, known in Nigeria as 419.
The story should have ended there with the netting of this Nigerian cybercrime kingpin, but a twist in evidence has now opened up a new angle to it.
This seems almost predictable and I’ll say why soon enough. But the trial led the FBI back to Nigeria, and to this “super cop” called Abba Kyari. It does seem like Hushpuppi sang like a bird as part of what might be a plea deal.
So, here we are: Abba Kyari is in trouble. As the story goes, according to grand jury indictment records already published, in the course of this scheme to defraud one of their victims, a Qatari businessman a dispute, the cause of which is currently unspecified, arose between them which caused one of his co-conspirators, Kelly Chibuzor Vincent to change his mind, and try to alert the fraud victim.
Following this, Hushpuppi contacted DCP Kyari to arrest Chibuzo and teach him a lesson for contacting his victims. He wanted Kyari to arrange for Chibuzo to be given the beating of his life inside the jail.
DCP Kyari, the indicts say, did carry this out on behalf of Hushpuppi and was handsomely paid in return for carrying out his wishes through certain accounts already specified in the FBI investigations of his role.
Hushpuppi was clearly his man. Of course, since the news broke, Mr Abba Kyari has, not surprisingly, denied any involvement of a dubious kind with Ramonu “Hushpuppi” Abbas. Just that the said Hushpuppi liked the picture of the loth he wore, requested some to be made for him, and wired money into his account.
Yeah, right! As far as excuses go, this was the lamest, most laughable excuse ever given by a man whose hands have been caught in the cookie jar. But still, we must hope that DCP Abba Kyari is telling the truth.
That there is a mistake somewhere. That Ramonu Hushpuppi Abbas is just simply trying to bring down a hard-ass cop who has been known publicly to fight high crime and has even been publicly decorated by President Buhari.
Let us hope the FBI is mistaken. Else, it would be a sucker punch against the Nigerian Police Force. And it will be a wet sock for those Nigerians for whom Abba Kyari was elevated to the sainthood and superhero.
Nigerians are in dire need of public heroes. There are just too few on the bloc, and now this? Well, truth be told, the Nigerian Police Force has proved to be a most detested institution in Nigeria for a reason: it is corrupt; Nigerians do not trust the police, and just for a little moment, Nigerians hoped that Abba Kyari would be the new face of the police: diligent, committed, honest, efficient: a true crime burster – one who got things done, and that too by the books.
That is why this FBI disclosure is startling, though, in the minds of Nigerians, it may not be surprising after all: the Nigerian Police is a corrupt organization.
It is infested with criminals in police uniforms. I did not say this. I’m quoting a former Inspector-General of Police. There may well be really diligent and honest officers committed to real policing in the NPF, but the evidence before Nigerians is that these are far and in between.
They do not make up a substantial enough part of the police to change or affect the character of the Nigerian Police Force.
This FBI indictment of a celebrated “super cop” in Nigeria highlights the crisis of ethics that this institution suffers from its top to its bottom.
Why are so blest? Many analysts of the situation contend that the effects of the civil war destroyed the professional base of the Nigerian police system permanently when many of its best, early professionally trained personnel left for Biafra and forced a new era of recruitment to the force that lowered both its standards, its expectation and its performance.
At the end of the war, many of these trained police officers were not returned to the police.
A professional gap thus lay gaping. Police seem to deliberately recruit from the worst amongst us – a necessity forced on them by exigency which has now turned into contingency.
It has since not been remedied, especially with the years of military rule which further diminished the police system and reduced its role as the internal defenders of the nation.
A history of the Nigerian police shows a history of the kind of impunity in which a highly decorated police officer would take a bribe from a fugitive criminal to arrest another and exchange operational notes by mail.
The Nigerian police have been known to kill Nigerian citizens, frame innocent Nigerians for a fee; keep them in jail; harass them; extort them, and no Nigerian alive today believes that the Nigerian Police is their friend, or has their back.
Some of the crisis which the Nigerian nation has suffered is because the NPF is not only professionally weak, it is poorly funded, and poorly organized, and its deficiencies make it possible for the likes of Abba Kyari to rise, and for the crime of all kinds to fester simply because we as a nation have tolerated a police system that is not designed to protect, but to contain us.
DCP Abba Kyari does exemplify this police, much as we hope against hope that the allegations against him by the FBI might prove to be false. We too deserve heroes.
But we also know in our guts that the unsealed indictment sounds pretty familiar. It is the sort of thing which the personnel of the NPF do routinely. They live on the payoff. It is a misuse of the power to do good for society and protect and secure it against antinomy.
The job of the next government after this most horrendously incompetent Federal government would be to embark on wide-ranging police reforms to give Nigeria a new police system, and ensure that it has internal review mechanisms that would make the life of corrupt personnel hell.
There has to be a very serious and powerful Internal Reviews Board to ensure the professionalism and high conduct of police affairs in Nigeria.
That reform will also need to place the operations of the police in the office of an independent Attorney General and not in the hands of the President.
That way, the likes of Abba Kyari would be contained before they did any serious damages to law enforcement and national security.