Wanted Abba Kyari, Four Others in NDLEA Custody over Drug Dealing

Few hours after he was declared wanted by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) over involvement in a cocaine deal, suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Abba Kyari was yesterday handed over by the police to the anti-narcotics agency.

Kyari had solved many criminal cases and was until recently among the most celebrated police officers in the country. But he found himself in troubled waters when he was associated with Hushpuppi’s cybercrime case. An American court ordered his deportation to the United States to be prosecuted along with Abbas Ramon, alias Hushpuppi, a request the Nigerian government was yet to respond to.

A statement by the spokesman of NDLEA, Mr. Femi Babafemi, disclosed that the police handed over the erstwhile Commander of Intelligence Response Team (IRT) at the Force Intelligence Bureau of the Nigeria Police to the drug law enforcement agency. Babafemi also disclosed that alongside Kyari, four other suspects in the matter, namely, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Sunday Ubua; Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Bawa James; Inspector Simon Agirgba; and Inspector John Nuhu, were driven into the headquarters of NDLEA in Abuja about 5pm yesterday and formally hand them over for interrogation and further investigation.

The NDLEA spokesman stated, “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 investigation will face the full weight of the law at the end of the on-going probe.”

Earlier, NDLEA had declared the suspended Kyari wanted for running a drug cartel.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, where he equally presented video evidence showing the culpability of Kyari in illicit drug business, Babafemi said Nigerians needed to be reminded of the enormity of the drug challenge the country faced and how imperative it was for all well-meaning citizens to play a positive role in curbing the illicit drug menace.

He said though the war by the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari against drug was uncompromising, “unfortunately, some law enforcement agents who should be partners in the pursuit of the president’s mandate are at the forefront of breaking the law, as they aid and abet drug trafficking in the country.

“Today, we are forced to declare one of such law enforcement agents wanted in the person of suspended DCP Abba Kyari, the erstwhile Commander of Intelligence Response Team (IRT) at the Force Intelligence Bureau of the Nigerian Police Force.”

Babafemi added, “With the intelligence at our disposal, the agency believes strongly that DCP Kyari is a member of a drug cartel that operates the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria illicit drug pipeline, and he needs to answer questions that crop up in an on-going drug case in which he is the principal actor. His failure to cooperate forced the hand of the agency and that is the reason for this press briefing.”

He also explained, “Let me give a synopsis of what transpired. 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. He proposed a drug deal whereby he and his team are 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.”

Babafemi continued, “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 N7 million per kilogramme, the proceed from the 5kg would amount to N35 million, 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 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 delivered 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.”

According to Babafemi, by 5: 23 pm, Kyari was in Abuja and met with the officer at the same rendezvous where they had the first meeting.

He stated that in their discussion, Kyari 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,” Babafemi said. “He forwarded a picture of the marked original cocaine package,” he added.

He revealed further, “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. Well, the car was wired with sound and video recorders. And the moment was documented.”

The spokesman said the NDLEA had a trove of intelligence, hard facts, from chats to photos and video and a detailed transcript of the communication between Kyari and officers of the agency.

He said, “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.’”

Babafemi said it was disheartening to hear Kyari referred to this rogue team in narrative, thus, “I do take good care of them, and this kind of work is done by only that team.”

He added, “It is equally disheartening to hear him give details of another similar operation which they pulled off, three weeks ago, according to him.”

He revealed, “DCP Abba Kyari was invited by NDLEA for debriefing on Thursday February 10 through two main channels because there is a whole 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.”

The NDLEA spokesman said, “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.”

Immediately after the media briefing, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Baba, ordered the arrest of Kyari and the other suspects. Baba also charged the NDLEA to investigate the indicted officers of the agency involved in the alleged crime.

The police in a statement revealed, “In line with standard administrative procedure of the force, the Inspector General of Police ordered a high-level, discreet, and in-house investigation into the allegations.

“The interim investigations report revealed that two international drug couriers identified as Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus, both males, were arrested at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu on the 19th of January, 2022, upon their arrival from Addis Ababa aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight ET917.

“The arrest led to the recovery of substantial quantity of powdery substance suspected to be cocaine from the two narcotic couriers. The operation, which was intelligence-driven, was undertaken by a unit of the Police Intelligence Response Team.

“Although the case and the two suspects were subsequently transferred to the NDLEA on the 25th January, 2022, the findings of the in-house investigation ordered by the Inspector General of Police established reasonable grounds for strong suspicion that the IRT officers involved in the operation could have been involved in some underhand and unprofessional dealings as well as official corruption which compromised ethical standards in their dealings with the suspects and exhibits recovered.”

The statement signed by Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Olumuyiwa Adejobi, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), added, “Beyond this, the police investigation also established that the international narcotics cartel involved in this case have strong ties with some officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu who are on their pay roll.

“The two arrested drug couriers confirmed that the modus is for the transnational drug barons to conspire with the NDLEA officers on duty and send them their pre-boarding photographs for identification, seamless clearance, and unhindered passage out of the airport with the narcotics being trafficked.

“The two arrested drug couriers also confirmed that they have been enjoying this relationship with the NDLEA officers at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport since 2021 and had in this instant case of 19th January, 2022, been identified and cleared by the NDLEA officers as customary, having received their pre-departure photographs and other details prior to their arrival in Enugu, and were on their way out with the narcotics when they were apprehended by the police.

“The police investigations report also indicted DCP Abba Kyari, who had been on suspension for his alleged involvement in a different fraud case being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), for complicity in the allegation of official corruption, tampering with narcotics exhibit and sundry unprofessional conducts that negate the standard administrative and investigative protocols of the force as well as extant criminal laws.

“It is to be emphasised that DCP Abba Kyari’s involvement in these allegation occurred while his suspension from service was subsisting”, it said.

“On the strength of the findings of the in-house police investigation panel, the Inspector-General of Police has ordered the immediate arrest and transfer of all the indicted police officers to the NDLEA authorities for conclusive investigation, while appropriate disciplinary actions are also being initiated against them by the Force leadership.”

The police high command added: “The IGP has also formally requested that the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency should ensure the identification, arrest and investigation of the agency’s officers, who have also been found to be colluding with the international drug cartel involved in this case towards advancing the anti-narcotics agenda of the federal government.

“The IGP assures the public of his administration’s commitment to upholding the tenets and values of policing in line with the agenda of ethical regeneration, restoration of professional standard, enhancement of the anti-corruption drive, respect for the rule of law and inter-agency collaboration in the drive to stabilise the internal security order of the country.”

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