Confusion over Kyari’s clearance

Investigation into alleged involvement of suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, in money laundering was enmeshed in confusion at the weekend when Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami denied media reports that he had cleared the embattled super cop. Malami, had in a disputed legal advice, directed the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to carry out further investigations on Kyari’s alleged link to an international money laundering syndicate.

It noted that a prima facie case of money laundering had been established against the DCP. He also said the force should intensify investigation into 33 crime proceeds allegedly received by Kyari. While many commended the recommendation as a good effort to save the image of Nigeria, a sudden twist crept into the case when reports emerged that Kyari had been cleared by the country’s chief law office. But Malami (SAN), on Sunday, said the legal advice by his office recommended further investigation and did not in any way mean a clearance.

Confusion arose when a legal advice from the AG’s office read: “The report of the office of the AGF in a legal advice no: DPPA/LA/814/21, written on behalf of the AGF by the Director of Public Prosecutions of the ministry, Mohammed Abubakar, stated that the evidence contained in the case diary had no link between DCP Abba Kyari and fraudster, Ramon Abass, also known as Hushpuppi, in the $1.1million internet scam.”

However, Malami quickly clarified the report saying: “the legal advice by his office recommended further investigation of the suspended DCP Abba Kyari.” Malami had in a recent TV interview admitted prima facie evidence against Kyari, adding that extradition moves were ongoing in the matter. But in a statement by his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu on Sunday, Malami said reports about a contradiction in his stance on the matter show a misunderstanding and misconception of the issue.

The statement further explaineded that “the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice’s stance is that no conclusion has been reached in the direction of absence of evidence relating to the first report.” Reacting to the development, Ariyo Toye, a human rights activist, said Malami has demonstrated double-standard in the case between Kyari and fraudster, Ramon Abass (Hushpuppi) and could no longer be trusted to conclude the investigation.

Toye said: “It is troubling to see a Malami, who had earlier admitted a prima facie evidence against Kyari, also to defend his office (the AGF), after reporting that the evidence contained in the case diary of Kyari showed that he had no link with Hushpuppi.

“Malami cannot amend this apparent double-standard and faux pas with a simple illogical response to public disenchantment that his office recommended further investigation of suspended DCP Abba Kyari.” According to him, there are strong indications that the Attorney-General may be plotting to save the former Commander of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) from facing criminal prosecution for alleged money laundering.

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He noted that weeks after directing the police to probe him for allegedly receiving 33 proceeds of crime, stating that a case of money laundering had been established against Kyari, the justice minister in a new legal advice said there was no evidence to show that money was laundered by the suspended senior police officer.

Kyari, wanted in the United States for alleged involvement in a $1.1m scam carried out by a notorious Internet scammer, Hushpuppi, was suspended by the police last July. He is also facing eight counts of conspiracy, obstruction and dealing in cocaine, and other related offences at the Federal High Court, Abuja. The Trumpet gathered.

The other defendants in the charge marked FHC/ ABJ/57/2022 are four members of the IRT, Sunday Ubia, Bawa James, Simon Agirigba and John Nuhu. Two other suspectarrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu, Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne, were also listed as defendants. Sequel to the report of the Special Investigation Panel which probed Kyari’s alleged links to Hushpuppi, the AGF affirmed in January that investigations carried out by the police indicted the former IRT commander for money laundering. Police investigations had revealed how the international scammers led by Hushpuppi allegedly paid N235,120,000 to Kyari’s younger brother.

The police report also showed how Kyari allegedly funnelled N44 million into his sibling’s bank account in multiple transactions. Following Kyari’s arrest and questioning, the AGF’s released legal advice read in part: “That there exists prima facie case of conspiracy, collaboration, receipt, conversion, transfer and/ or retention of proceeds of unlawful activities contrary to the provision of sections 15, 17 & 18 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and Section 17 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, Cap E, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, against DCP Abba Kyari and other suspects in view of the overwhelming evidence showing the nature of his disguised financial transactions and activities with Abbas Hushpuppi, Efe Martins, Usman Ibrahim Waziri, Sikiru Adekoya, Hussaini Ala and Sharon Festus, who are all confirmed members of an international Internet fraud network. “Although the facts and circumstances of this case as contained in the case file are suggestive to money laundering offences against DCP Abba Kyari and his accomplices namely: Abbas Hushpuppi, Efe Martins, Usman Ibrahim Waziri, Sikiru Adekoya, Hussaini Ala and Sharon Festus; to successfully prosecute them, there is a need for a more thorough dissecting and tracing of the suspected 33 proceeds of crime received by DCP Abba Kyari directly or indirectly through the said accomplices.”

However, Malami, in his latest advice contradicted his January directive that Kyari should be probed for money laundering and for receiving 33 proceeds of crime.In a letter dated February 4, 2022, with reference number, DPPA/ LA/814/21, the AGF sought to exonerate the embattled senior officer, saying there was no link between Kyari and the Hushpuppi gang.

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