…Suspended Police chief implicated in 25kg cocaine deal
…Alleged to have bribed NDLEA men with $61,000 to retrieve seized drugs, replace them with dummy exhibits
…NDLEA declared Kyari wanted after he allegedly shunned the invitation
…Police arrested Kyari, others, took them into custody last Friday, handed them over to NDLEA
By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor & Kingsley Omonobi, LAGOS
A few hours after the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA declared Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Abba Kyari, former commander of Intelligence Response Team, IRT, wanted over his involvement in 25kg cocaine deal, the Police yesterday arrested and handed him and four members of his team over to the anti-narcotics agency.
Director of Media and Advocacy of NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, who disclosed this in a statement yesterday said: “Five of the wanted suspects, namely: DCP Abba Kyari; ACP Sunday J. Ubua; ASP Bawa James; Inspector Simon Agirgba and Inspector John Nuhu were driven into the National Headquarters of NDLEA in Abuja at about 5p.m on Monday, February 14, to formally hand them over for interrogation and further investigation.
“The agency wishes to assure that no stone will be left unturned to ensure that all suspects already in custody and those that may still be indicted in the course of investigations will face the full weight of the law at the end of the ongoing probe.”
Recall that the Police had earlier on Friday, arrested and detained Kyari and his boys in the IRT team before they were handed over yesterday.
He had earlier been declared wanted for being one of the leaders of a cartel of drug barons operating in the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria network.
How Kyari was busted, by NDLEA
Giving an account, Babafemi said: “The saga started on Friday, January 21, 2022, when DCP Kyari initiated a call to one of the NDLEA officers in Abuja at 2:12 pm.
“When the officer returned the call two minutes later, Kyari informed him he was coming to see him, to discuss an operational matter after the Juma’at service.
“He appeared at the agreed venue of the meeting with the officer and went straight to the crux of the matter.
“This was it: His team had intercepted and arrested some traffickers that came into the country from Ethiopia with, according to him, 25kg of cocaine.
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“He proposed a drug deal whereby he and his team were to take 15kg of the cocaine and leave 10kg for the prosecution of the suspects arrested with the illicit drug in Enugu.
“In the meantime, the purloined cocaine will be replaced with a dummy worth 15kg. He asked the NDLEA officer to persuade men of the FCT Command, to play along as well.
“Now, anybody who is in touch with the reality of the renewed drug war by NDLEA since January 18, 2021, would know that that was a tall order because our officers and men have re-dedicated themselves to the war against illicit drugs and what Kyari was asking for was not tenable, not in this new dispensation, not with the new NDLEA.
“We can recall that one of our officers was in the same situation in May 2021 when a drug kingpin, Ejiofor Felix Enwereaku, flew from Brazil to Nigeria to negotiate the release of a 27.95 kg shipment of cocaine intercepted at the MMIA.
“The drug lord offered a bribe of $24,500, but our officer placed duty above pecuniary interests. We all know how the episode ended.
“That is the ethos of the new NDLEA. And our officer proved it again this time by reporting to the authorities.
‘NDLEA men played along with Kyari’
“By 11: 05 am on Monday, January 24, after the agency gave the officer the green light to play along, he and Kyari began a WhatsApp call for the rest of the day.
“The officer conveyed ‘their’ willingness to play the game. At this point, Kyari disclosed that the 15kg (already taken out) was shared between the informants that provided information for the seizure and he and his men of the IRT of the Nigerian Police.
“According to him, the informants were given 7kg while his team took 8kg, which was already sold.
“He then offered to pay the NDLEA team (that is the officer and the FCT commander) by selling, on their behalf, half of the remaining 10kg, thereby further reducing the original cocaine for the prosecution to just 5kg.
“At N7m per kilogram, the proceed from the 5kg would amount to N35m, at the exchange rate of N570 per dollar being the black market rate for the day, January 24, 2022. In effect, he would be delivering $61, 400 to the NDLEA team.
“He put pressure on our officer to wrap up the arrangement with the commander of the FCT Command to take custody of the drug and suspects from his men, who were on the ground in Abuja. At the time, he was speaking from Lagos, where he allegedly travelled for private business.
“The next day, January 25, Kyari offered to send his younger brother to deliver the payment, while his men deliver the suspects, but our officer turned down the suggestion, insisting he would rather deal with him in person and was therefore prepared to wait for him to return from Lagos.
“By 5:23 pm, Kyari was in Abuja and met with the officer at the same rendezvous where they had the first meeting. In their discussion, he disclosed how his team received the information from a double-crosser, who betrayed the traffickers to him, showing a sordid connection between law enforcement agents and the drug underworld;
“He narrated how, acting on the tip-off, his team departed Abuja to Enugu and arrested the traffickers, removed part of the consignment on his instruction and replaced same with dummies.
“He also indicated how to identify the remnant of the original cocaine that would be delivered to NDLEA, five original packages marked with red dots. The reason for this was to avoid the dummies being subjected to test. He forwarded a picture of the marked original cocaine package.
“According to the plan, once the 5kg cocaine has been tested in the presence of the suspects and confirmed positive, there would be no need to test the remaining ones, being dummies.
“He also brought with him the money from the sale of the 5kg share of the NDLEA team, a total of $61,400. Our officer, however, preferred to take the money inside his car.
Rendezvous in wired car
“Well, the car was wired with sound and video recorders. And the moment was documented, part of which I will play for you at the end of this briefing. So we have a trove of intelligence, hard facts, from chats to photos and video and a detailed transcript of the communication between him and the NDLEA officer.
“This is not the place to delve into the details. But it is disheartening to hear straight from the horse’s mouth the kind of sleaze engaged in by this team of rogue law enforcement agents, led by Kyari, the members of whom he described this way: ‘The boys are very, very sharp, they are very loyal.
“It is disheartening to hear him say of this rogue team, and I quote: ‘I do take good care of them, and this kind of work is done by only that team.
“It is equally disheartening to hear him give details of another similar operation, which they pulled off, three weeks ago, according to him.
“Well, I am not here to wash his dirty linen in the public. But I want us to understand how we arrived at this juncture whereby we are having this press briefing. NDLEA has the mandate to take custody of suspects and consignments of drugs seized by other arms of law enforcement.
“There is a standard protocol for such transfer. This, we duly followed. The suspects and drugs were delivered to us on February 8 but the last part of the process, yet to be completed, is the debriefing of Kyari.
Kyari shunned our invitation — NDLEA
“DCP Abba Kyari was invited by NDLEA for debriefing on Thursday, February 10, through two main channels because there is a lot of questions begging for answers.
“The invitation was legitimate and formal according to our protocol. But up till the close of office hours on Friday, February 11, he refused to respond. Up till this moment, he hasn’t responded.
“We are a law-abiding agency of government. We follow due process. In that vein, we will not detain suspects beyond the stipulated period according to the law before we charge them to court. And Kyari must be debriefed before the suspects are arraigned in court.
“Having failed to honour the official invitation, NDLEA has no option but to declare DCP Abba Kyari of the Nigerian Police WANTED, right from this very moment.
“I must say this publicly. We are not unaware of threats to the lives of NDLEA officers involved in this investigation, even as we continue to do our best to protect our officers and men in the line of duty.
“We are making this strong statement to those contemplating harmful action against NDLEA officers. They would only succeed in compounding their problems in the event of the murder of or harm to officers and men of NDLEA.’’
Kyari, golden hair boy of the Police Force
Before his suspension as head of the IRT, following his involvement with Ramon Abass, aka, Hushpuppi, the celebrated fraudster, Abba Kyari’s name was synonymous with bravery and doggedness in policing in Nigeria.
He was one officer criminals avoided like a plague, having run roughshod over criminals, especially kidnappers.
He had succeeded in writing his name in gold, following all the arrests he carried out with his seemingly formidable team of policemen.
Kyari was eulogized by all and sundry after he succeeded in arresting the country’s number one notorious kidnap suspect, Evans, who is still facing trial with members of his gang.
He also carried out many other arrests, some of which ended in the tragic end of some of his boys in the IRT.
Described as one of Nigeria’s most successful and youngest police officers, Abba Kyari is currently on suspension and relieved from all police duties, pending the outcome of an internal investigation into his alleged connection with Hushpupi.
He is also a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, IACP.
Prior to his appointment as IGP-IRT Commander, Kyari served in Lagos State Police Command as a unit commander in one of the PMF bases located in Lagos before he was promoted and transferred to serve as the officer in charge of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.
Born March 17, 1975, in Maiduguri, Borno State, Kyari has won many awards nationally and internationally before his tribulation reared its ugly head.
Unfortunately, while his case was still pending with both the FBI, Police Service Commission and the Nigeria Police Force after a report exonerating him was submitted, his name cropped up at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, ND-LEA, over very damaging drug-related issues.
This time, he was alleged to have attempted to recover seized cocaine by bribing the anti-narcotic agency’s officials with a sum of $61,000.