Hushpuppi vs Abba Kyari: Why Nigeria needs better police institutions

Hushpuppi vs Abba Kyari: Why Nigeria needs better police institutions

The Nigerian social media space has been buzzing with news of the recent suspension of Nigeria’s “supercop” DCP Abba Kyari, who was suspended from office by the Police Service Commission (PSC) as the Commissioner of Police and head of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT).

Mr Kyari was named as an accomplice in the $1.1 million fraudulent deal between the super-rich social media influencer (now jailed) Ramon Abbas a.k.a Hushpuppi and a Qatari businessman.

The report of DCP Abba Kyari’s suspension came hours after the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba gave the recommendation via a statement released by the Force.

In the statement, the IGP noted that the recommendation for suspension which is without prejudice to the constitutional presumption of innocence in favour of the officer, is in line with the internal disciplinary processes of the Force.

The IGP further noted that the suspension is also expected to create an enabling environment for the NPF Special Investigation Panel to carry out its investigations into the weighty allegations against DCP Abba Kyari without interference,” the statement said.

The IGP further directed the constitution of a 4-man Special Investigation Panel to undertake a detailed review of all the allegations against DCP Abba Kyari by the US Government and to offer recommendations for further actions on the matter.

How it all started

Reports emerged last week after U.S Court documents revealed that popular fraudster, Hushpuppi arranged to have a former business partner, Kelly Chibuzo Vincent arrested by Police Commissioner, Abba Kyari after they scammed a Qatari businessman of $1 million.

“The defendants allegedly faked the financing of a Qatari school by playing the roles of bank officials and creating a bogus website in a scheme that also bribed a foreign official to keep the elaborate pretense going after the victim was tipped off,” said Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison.

Hushpuppi, during an interrogation by US authorities, alleged that he paid bribes to Mr Kyari, to have a fellow fraudster, one Kelly Chibuzor, arrested and jailed in Nigeria following a dispute over the $1.1 million fraud against a Qatari businessperson, after he felt shortchanged and threatened to expose the transaction.

Full texts emerged of the conversation between the duo in the records of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, which stated that on January 20, 2020, KYARI sent to ABBAS biographical, identifying information for CHIBUZO, along with a photograph of him. In a conversation immediately following, ABBAS confirmed, “That is him, sir.”

KYARI stated, “We have arrested the guy . . . He is in my cell now. This is his picture after we arrested him today.”

KYARI then asked for details about what CHIBUZO did “on audio,” which KYARI said was “So that we will know what to do.” Click here to read further details of the conversation between Hushpuppi and Kyari.

What transpired between the duo is a major problem facing the Nigerian security agency and it is none other than the hydra-headed monster – corruption which bedevils not just the Nigerian Police Force but nearly every public institution in the country. Many have postulated that this problem as it affects the police Force has its roots in the poor welfare system of the Force. A visit to a police barracks and one need not imagine further, the level of decadence in the welfare plan for police officers.

In October 2020, Nigerian youths took to the street to make several demands of their government, one of which is standardising the Nigerian Police Force to stamp out the rot in the system. Since then, not much has been done to bring about the desired upgrades save for the usual lip service that the government pays to many burdensome problems in the nation.

Meanwhile, the failure to reform the Police Force continues to enable the culture of corruption where misdemeanours like the one committed by the hitherto model police officer thrive.

Can Nigeria’s police force be reformed?

Reforming Nigeria’s Police Force means foremost, paying the officers decent and befitting remunerations. Next and just as important, is adequate training and ingraining of discipline into officers. The issue of better welfare packages ultimately circles back to the nation’s economic situation and whether Nigeria’s finances can support such massive welfare restructure.

It is not news that the federal government spent a total of N1.8 trillion on debt servicing in the first five months of the year, representing about 98% of the total revenue generated in the same period. Can a government spending 98% of its revenue on its creditors even hope to fund such a critical program as police welfare reform?

The fact remains that the government needs to urgently cut down on its excesses and create policies that support increased productivity in the nation. The issue of police reforms is a matter of national urgency and it should no longer be relegated to the backbench in Nigeria.

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