The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has given an insight into how suspended Deputy Police Commissioner, Abba Kyari, used men of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) to push drugs across Nigeria.
NDLEA spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, disclosed this during a press briefing at the agency’s office in Abuja.
He said despite being on suspension, Mr Kyari claimed to be in control of the IRT and still has policemen loyal to him.
The NDLEA, while revealing to journalists how the suspended IRT belonged to a drug cartel that operates the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria illicit drug pipeline, said a covert operation was conducted to expose the officer.
The revelation by the NDLEA comes a few months after the former police intelligence unit commander was indicted in an internet fraud case by a U.S.court.
The court had declared Mr Kyari wanted to answer allegations of complicity in the $1.1 million bribe fraud perpetrated by a popular fraudster, Ramon Abbas aka Hushpuppi.
This led to his suspension by the Police Service Commission (PSC) from office as a deputy commissioner of police and head of the IRT.
Mr Kyari’s suspension was based on the recommendation of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali. The police chief recommended the suspension as a temporary measure while the force investigated Mr Kyari’s relationship with Hushpuppi.
In the new revelation, Mr Babafemi said Mr Kyari boasted of how he uses his loyal policemen of the IRT to carry out the illicit act and covering his tracks by ‘taking care of them’.
He also said Mr Kyari’s brother was part of the cartel which also offered to bribe the officers of the NDLEA.
“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, Mr Kyari informed him he was coming to see him, to discuss an operational matter after 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.
“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,” he said.
Mr Babafemi said Mr Kyari offered to pay the NDLEA and the FCT Commander of the Nigerian police by selling part of the drugs on their behalf.
“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 N7m per kilogram, the proceeds from the 5kg would amount to N35m, 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.
“In their discussion, he 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. He forwarded a picture of the marked original cocaine package.
“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, part of which I will play for you at the end of this briefing.
“So we have a trove of intelligence, hard facts, from chats to photos and video and a detailed transcript of the communication between him and the NDLEA officer.
“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.’
“It is disheartening to hear him say of this rogue team, and I quote: “I do take good care of them, and this kind of work is done by only that team.
“It is equally disheartening to hear him give details of another similar operation which they pulled off, three weeks ago, according to him,” he said.
Police spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, could not be reached when contacted to speak on the indictment of the force in the IRT as he did not respond to calls and SMS sent to his line.
The commander of the IRT, Tunji Disu, also did not respond to telephone calls and SMS.
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Seunmanuel Faleye is a brand and communications strategist. He is a covert writer and an overt creative head. He publishes Apple's Bite International Magazine.