The Police Service Commission says it will determine the fate of the Commander of the IGP Intelligence Response and Monitoring Team, Abba Kyari, a deputy commissioner of Police indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for alleged involvement in a $1.1m Internet fraud.
The commission also noted that Kyari might face dismissal or demotion, and criminal prosecution if found culpable in the fraud allegedly perpetrated by an Instagram influencer and suspected fraudster, Ramon Abass, popularly known as Hushpuppi.
A Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal complaint lodged at the United States District Court in California had listed Hushpuppi and Kyari among six suspects indicted in the international fraud conspiracy.
The other suspects include AbdulRahman Juma (Abdul); Vincent Kelly Chibuzo (Kelly); Rukayat Motunrayo Fashola (Morayo); and Bolatito Tawakalitu Agbabiaka (Bolamide).
Kyari, who is popularly known as ‘super cop,’ had received rapid promotions and a commendation from the National Assembly for his exploits in crime fighting.
His arrest of several notorious criminals, including alleged kidnap kingpin, Chukwudi Onuamadike, commonly known as Evans, among other notable arrests, shot him to the limelight.
On Wednesday, however, an unsealed 69-page court document showed that he had been under investigation by the FBI for his alleged link to Hushpuppi, who had pleaded guilty to fraud.
In the case marked 2:21-cr-00203, USA vs Abba Alhaji Kyari dated April 29, 2021, the FBI asked a US District Court in California to order Kyari’s arrest.
The US Department of Justice in a statement said Hushpuppi admitted during interrogation that he paid bribes to Kyari to have one of his rivals arrested and jailed in Nigeria following a dispute over a $1.1m fraud involving a Qatari businessman.
According to the FBI, Hushpuppi asked Kyari to arrest a fellow fraudster, Kelly Chibuzor Vincent, after both were involved in a dispute over the $1.1m loot.
It was stated in the court document that in September 2019, Kyari travelled to Dubai and was picked by Hushpuppi’s driver.
Following the US court arrest warrant, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, ordered a review of the information on Kyari.
But speaking to our correspondent on Friday, the Commissioner in charge of Media on the board of the Police Service Commission, Mr. Austin Braimoh, said the PSC would not be bound by the IG’s review of the allegations against Kyari, noting that the commission would carry out further probe on whatever findings the Police authorities make on Kyari.
Braimoh stated that the commission’s findings would determine Kyari’s future in the Police Force.
He said, “The commission won’t say anything until we get the official report. We are the final decision-maker on his fate as a Police officer. Everything concerning his indictment can be investigated and the criminal aspect of it can be sent to the law court; but on the official aspect concerning discipline, no other body has power to do anything to him as a Police officer. It is only the commission that has such powers.
“So, the commission is awaiting the full report of investigation and his indictment and we will treat it officially. We will apply the law. The law will determine the various punishments that we can award against him. He can be dismissed, depending on the gravity of the offence; we can demote him, reduce his rank; we can suspend him.
“Many things are laid out before us pertaining to various offences and after that, the criminal aspect will be referred to the court for prosecution. It depends on how the report is coming; whether it is coming to us directly for us to extricate the criminal aspect and treat it or they want to treat it and refer the official one to us to discipline him.’’
Asked if the police could be trusted to carry out a thorough, unbiased investigation, the commissioner disclosed that the PSC investigation department will subject the findings of the police review to further investigations.
Giving an insight into the disciplinary process the embattled DCP would go through, Braimoh explained that Kyari would be queried after which he would be interrogated by the Force Disciplinary Committee.
He noted, “We don’t always believe the police should investigate the police (personnel) except through the commission. But the important thing is that whatever thing they decide to do, we are not obliged to accept their investigations. So, our investigation department would still go further to get the facts.
‘’What we know they would do is that a query would be issued based on the complaints against him, he would be asked to defend himself and then, he would face what we call the Force Disciplinary Committee which would interrogate him and the report is passed to the DIG in charge and from there to the IG.
‘’The IG would basically forward the final findings and recommendations to the commission. The commission would now carry on with their own investigation; we have to re-investigate what they have done to ensure that they comply with the rule of law and what is expected.
‘’Our lawyer would look into it, he would check the facts and if we feel there is negligence and that some things are not done, we would do a thorough job and eventually, we would have recommendations from the standing committee to the plenary for a final decision and our decision is final on his career.’’
When asked if Kyari should be suspended pending the investigation’s outcome, Braimoh said this was the normal thing to do.
He, however, observed that the US court had not criminalised the IRT commander, noting that Kyari would have to step aside once the allegations against him were established.
The commissioner added, “The way we look at it is that the court has given an order that he should be arrested, the court has not criminalised him yet; he has not been convicted.
‘’Since, there is little hope, or what you call beyond reasonable doubt, he may be found clean. The issue of stepping aside in Nigeria may be different. The facts of the allegations would be made available to the force, and I’m sure the needful would be done. ‘’
Meanwhile, there is uncertainty over the setting up of the panel that would review the allegations against Kyari.
Although the IG announced on Thursday that the force would review the allegations against Kyari, Saturday PUNCH could not confirm if this had been done on Friday.
The force spokesman, Frank Mba, did not respond to inquiries on the composition of the review panel and the deadline for the submission of its report.