Hushpuppi: Six months after FBI indictment, IGP yet to forward disciplinary advice on Kyari – Police Service Commission

The Police Service Commission (PSC) is yet to receive any disciplinary recommendations from the Inspector-General of Police, Baba Usman months he received the report of the probe panel on the alleged role of the suspended Head of Intelligence Response Team, DCP Abba Kyari, The Punch reports.

Kyari was probed for his alleged involvement in a $1.1m Internet scam carried out by Instagram influencer, Ramon Abbas Igbalode, also known as Hushpuppi, and four others.

The probe followed Kyari’s indictment by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations, which recommended that the ‘super cop’ be extradited to the US to face trial.

The US Attorney’s Office at the Central District of California declined comments on the warrant of arrest it issued over six months ago that the FBI should apprehend Kyari and other defendants in the case.

The court’s Director of Media Relations, Thom Mrozek, in an email interview with The Punch on December 13, 2021, also said the sentencing of Hushpuppi, who pleaded guilty to money laundering charges, was still pending.

The Dubai Police in the United Arab Emirates had in June 2020 arrested Hushpuppi and his gang.

They were later extradited to the US for prosecution by the FBI.

The FBI Special Agent, Andrew Innocenti, had alleged that Hushpuppi contracted the services of Kyari after a “co-conspirator,” Chibuzo Vincent, allegedly threatened to expose the alleged $1.1m fraud committed against a Qatari businessman.

Innocenti, who said he obtained voice calls and WhatsApp conversations between Kyari and Hushpuppi, had also alleged that the latter paid the police officer N8m or $20,600 for the arrest and detention of Vincent.

Kyari had taken to Facebook on July 29, 2021 to deny the allegations, but he later deleted the post after editing it about 12 times.

The IG had recommended the suspension of Kyari, which the PSC carried out on July 31, 2021.

The police boss had on August 2, 2021, constituted the Special Investigation Panel headed by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department, Joseph Egbunike, to probe the allegations.

Egbunike on August 26, 2021 submitted the panel’s report, which he said “is an outcome of a painstaking, transparent and exhaustive investigative process.”

He revealed that the report contained the case file of the probe, evidence and findings as well as testimonies from Kyari and other persons and groups linked to the matter.

Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, had on September 14, 2021, during a television interview said the findings and recommendations on Kyari had been submitted to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), for “legal opinion” and thereafter for presentation to the President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the final decision would be taken by the PSC.

But three months later, the PSC spokesperson, Ikechukwu Ani, revealed that the commission had not received any disciplinary recommendations from the IG through the Force Disciplinary Committee almost four months after the Egbunike panel submitted its report to the police boss.

The recommendations of the FDC will inform the commission’s decision and also determine Kyari’s future in the force, but the matter is now inconclusive.

The PSC spokesperson said; “What we received was the communication to the commission that the IG had received the Joseph Egbunike panel’s report and that they were working on it. So, it is not like they have sent a complete report to the commission; the commission is still expecting it from the police; they have not also made their recommendations known to the commission.”

Ani added that as far as the PSC was concerned, the Borno-born police officer remained suspended.

“He (Kyari) is still on suspension because we have not lifted it officially at the commission, because the commission approved his suspension,” he said.

On the in-house panel set up by the PSC to probe Kyari’s indictment, he said; “We are waiting for the police to send their own report; ours is an internal arrangement that will guide the commission in taking a decision. It is not a different panel, but we are working ahead of time to prepare the commission so that when the report comes from the police, we will have all the facts needed to assist them to make a decision on it.

“The commission is bound by the provisions of the constitution and as far as discipline for serving police officers from constables to DIGs is concerned, the constitution has given the responsibility to the commission. Because the IG is the operational head of the police, we will normally seek his advice and recommendations, but the final decision lies with the commission. It is a constitutional matter.”

The PSC spokesperson said the police would be in a better position to give a reason why no disciplinary measure had been taken yet on the matter.

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