Malami Makes U-turn Over Abba Kyari Money Laundering
In a recent letter, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, indicated that a case of money laundering against former head of the IGP Intelligence Response Team, Abba Kyari, has not been proved.
Kyari is wanted in the United States for allegedly taking part in a $1.1 million scam perpetrated by Ramon Abass, also known as Hushpuppi, a self-proclaimed online fraudster.
At the Federal High Court in Abuja, the controversial police officer is currently charged with eight charges of conspiracy, obstruction, cocaine dealing, and other connected offenses.
Sunday Ubia, Bawa James, Simon Agirigba, and John Nuhu, all members of the IRT, are the other defendants in the charge dated FHC/ABJ/57/2022.
Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne, two additional suspects apprehended at Enugu’s Akanu Ibiam International Airport, were also named as defendants.
In January, Malami confirmed that Kyari had been charged with money laundering after police investigations.
The AGF had urged for more investigations in a legal recommendation to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, noting that a prima facie case of money laundering had been established against the DCP.
He also stated that the inquiry into 33 criminal profits collected by the former IRT leader should be stepped up.
The 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 gave 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.”
Malami, however, in his latest advice contradicted the directive that the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police should be probed further for money laundering.
The minister in a letter dated February 4, 2022, with reference number, DPPA/LA/814/21, had noted that Kyari has no link with the Hushpuppi gang.
The letter which was written by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Abubakar, on behalf of Malami noted that the evidence contained 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.”
The letter was 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’.
It read in part, “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. The monies were withdrawn and utilised by the aforementioned account holders and the lady.
“It is our view that the above response has not linked the suspect, DCP Abba Kyari, to the offence of money laundering as the evidence contained in the case diary is not sufficient to indicate or show that the said monies were laundered directly or indirectly by Kyari to disguise their origin, more so that the aforementioned recipients or receivers exonerated him in their statements as having nothing to do with the monies.”
Malami further stated that police might have to explore their internal disciplinary measures against Kyari through the Police Service Commission for breaching the code of conduct for law enforcement officers by relating with people of questionable character.
He further stated that Kyari could be punished for violating the social media policy of the police by responding to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s indictment on Facebook; breaching the Police Code of Professional Ethics by accepting complaints and acting on such without recourse to established protocol and detaining a suspect, Vincent Chibuzor, for over a month without a valid court order and regards to his fundamental human rights.
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The DPP while speaking on the new directive of the minister noted it was based on the report submitted by the police, adding that the police failed to probe the gaps identified in their investigation by the ministry.
Abubakar noted that Malami did not say there was no evidence of money laundering against Kyari.
The DPP stated, “We said in the absence of the evidence, further investigation is needed and they should go-ahead to try him on the administrative offences they have identified. We said they (police) should establish linkages – the money trail.
“Instead of them to go and investigate further the gaps we identified, they didn’t. They just wrote back to say ‘check paragraphs so and so’. We are saying no, those paragraphs did not sufficiently establish the things we say you should establish.”