There are strong indications that Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice may be plotting to save a former Commander of the Police Intelligence Response Team, Abba Kyari, from facing criminal prosecution for alleged money laundering.
Weeks after ordering the police to investigate Kyari for allegedly receiving 33 proceeds of crime and declaring that a case of money laundering had been established against him, the justice minister issued a new legal opinion claiming that there was no evidence that money had been laundered by the disgraced senior police officer.
Last July, the police suspended Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police who is wanted in the United States for alleged involvement in a $1.1 million scam carried out by a notorious Internet scammer, Ramon Abass, aka Hushpuppi.
At the Federal High Court in Abuja, he is charged with eight counts of conspiracy, obstruction, cocaine dealing, and other related offences.
Sunday Ubia, Bawa James, Simon Agirigba, and John Nuhu, all members of the IRT, are the other defendants in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/57/2022.
Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne, two other suspects arrested at Enugu’s Akanu Ibiam International Airport, were also named as defendants.
Following the Special Investigation Panel’s report into Kyari’s alleged ties to Hushpuppi, the AGF confirmed in January that police investigations had indicted the former IRT commander for money laundering.
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In a legal opinion, Malami directed Usman Baba, the Inspector-General of Police, to conduct further investigations, noting that a prima facie case of money laundering had been established against the DCP.
He also stated that the investigation into 33 crime proceeds received by the former IRT commander should be stepped up.
Police investigations revealed how international scammers led by Hushpuppi paid N235,120,000 to Kyari’s younger brother, according to our correspondent.
Kyari allegedly funnelled N44 million into his sibling’s bank account in multiple transactions, according to the police report.
“That there exists prima facie case of conspiracy, collaboration, receipt, conversion, transfer and/or retention of proceeds of unlawful activities contrary to the provisions of sections 15, 17 and 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,” the AGF’s legal advice read.
“Although the facts and circumstances of this case as contained in the case file are suggestive of 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
Malami’s latest advice, on the other hand, contradicted his January directive that Kyari be investigated for money laundering and receiving 33 proceeds of crime.
The AGF sought to clear Kyari in a letter dated February 4, 2022, with the reference number DPPA/LA/814/21, claiming there was no link between Kyari and the Hushpuppi gang.
The evidence in the case diary “was not sufficient to indicate or show that the said monies (N279mn) were laundered directly or indirectly by Kyari to disguise their origin,” according to a letter written on behalf of the AGF by Mohammed Abubakar, Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Justice.
In a letter titled ‘Re: Forwarding of the investigation report of the Nigeria Police Force Special Investigation Team and request for legal advice with regards to allegations of criminal conspiracy, aiding and abetting Internet fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering against DCP Abba Kyari,’ the attorney-general announced his new position.
“I am directed to inform you that after a careful study of the said response wherein you stated that ‘the monies have been traced to Zenith Bank account no. 2255416115 belonging to Usman Ibrahim Waziri; Guaranty Trust Bank account no. 0130665392 belonging to Adekoya Sikiru; Zenith Bank account no. 2080537566 belonging to Hussein Ala and other funds went to Sharon Festus,” according to the letter addressed to. The money was taken out and used by the aforementioned account holders as well as the lady.
“We believe the above response does not link the suspect, DCP Abba Kyari, to the crime of money laundering because the evidence in the case diary is insufficient to indicate or show that the said monies were laundered directly or indirectly by Kyari to disguise their origin, especially since the aforementioned recipients or receivers exonerated him in their statements as having nothing to do with the monies.”
In his capacity as a senior officer and head of the IRT, Kyari may be subjected to internal disciplinary measures by the Police Service Commission for violating the code of conduct for law enforcement officers by socialising with suspected fraudsters and people of questionable means, according to the justice minister.
Malami also said Kyari could be punished for breaking the police department’s social media policy by responding to the FBI’s indictment on Facebook; for violating the Police Code of Professional Ethics by accepting complaints and acting on them without following established protocol; and for detaining a suspect, Vincent Chibuzor, for over a month without a valid court order and in violation of his fundamental human rights.
The DPP accuses the police of failing to investigate report gaps.
The DPP, on the other hand, said the AGF’s new position was based on the police report, noting that the police failed to investigate the gaps identified in the ministry’s investigation.
The ministry did not say there was no evidence of money laundering against Kyari, according to Abubakar.
“We said in the absence of the evidence, further investigation is required, and they should proceed to try him on the administrative offences they have identified,” the DPP stated. We suggested that they (police) establish links – the money trail.
“Instead of going further into the gaps we identified, they didn’t. They simply replied with the words ‘check paragraphs so and so.’ “No, those paragraphs did not adequately establish the things we say you should establish,” we say.
Meanwhile, despite the PSC’s directive, the police have yet to submit a new report on Kyari.
The commission had dismissed the SIP’s investigation into Kyari, which was led by DIG Joseph Egbunike. It demanded a new one, which had to be submitted by February 25.
Despite the fact that the cyber scam syndicate members transferred a total of N279.120 million to the younger Kyari’s bank account at various times, the panel failed to invite or question him.