Malami backs Kyari, says no evidence of laundered money
There are strong indications that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, may be plotting to save a former Commander of the Police Intelligence Response Team, Abba Kyari, from facing criminal prosecution for alleged money laundering.
Weeks after directing the police to probe him for allegedly receiving 33 proceeds of crime, stating that a case of money laundering had been established against Kyari, the justice minister in a new legal advice said there was no evidence to show that money was laundered by the senior police officer.
Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, who is wanted in the United States for alleged involvement in a $1.1m scam carried out by a notorious Internet scammer, Ramon Abass, aka Hushpuppi, was suspended by the police last July.
He is also facing eight counts of conspiracy, obstruction and dealing in cocaine, and other related offences at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The other defendants in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/57/2022 are four members of the IRT, Sunday Ubia, Bawa James, Simon Agirigba and John Nuhu.
Two other suspects arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu, Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne, were also listed as defendants.
Sequel to the report of the Special Investigation Panel which probed Kyari’s alleged links to Hushpuppi, the AGF affirmed in January that investigations carried out by the police indicted the former IRT commander for money laundering.
Malami, in a legal advice, therefore, directed the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to carry out further investigations, noting that a prima facie case of money laundering had been established against the DCP.
He also said the force should intensify investigation into 33 crime proceeds received by the ex-IRT commander.
Our correspondent had exclusively reported that police investigations revealed how the international scammers led by Hushpuppi paid N235,120,000 to Kyari’s younger brother.
The police report also said Kyari equally funnelled N44 million into his sibling’s bank account in multiple transactions.
The AGF’s 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 in view of 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.”
However, Malami, in his latest advice contradicted his January directive that Kyari should be probed for money laundering and for receiving 33 proceeds of crime.
In a letter dated February 4, 2022, with reference number, DPPA/LA/814/21, the AGF sought to exonerate the embattled senior officer, saying there was no link between Kyari and the Hushpuppi gang.
According to the letter written on behalf of the AGF by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Abubakar, 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 new position of the attorney-general was contained in a letter 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’.
The letter addressed to the IG, 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.”
The justice minister said the police might wish to explore their internal disciplinary measures against Kyari through the Police Service Commission for breaching the code of conduct for law enforcement officers by hobnobbing with suspected fraudsters and people of questionable means in his capacity as a senior officer and head of the IRT.
Malami also said Kyari could be sanctioned 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.
DPP blames police for not probing gaps in report
But the DPP said the AGF’s new position was based on the police report, noting that the police failed to probe the gaps identified in their investigation by the ministry.
Abubakar insisted that the ministry 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.”
Meanwhile, the police have yet to submit a fresh report on Kyari as directed by the PSC.
The commission had rejected the police investigation on Kyari carried out by the SIP led by DIG Joseph Egbunike. It ordered a fresh one, which should have been submitted on February 25.
Despite establishing the fact that a total of N279.120mn flowed to the younger Kyari’s bank account at various times from the cyber scam syndicate members, the panel failed to invite or interrogate him.
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Armed robbers flee with $11 million in Ogun
A four-man armed robbery gang on Friday afternoon ‘successfully’ escaped with a whopping sum of $11 million at the Oke-Sokori of Abeokuta, in Abeokuta North local government area of Ogun State.
The four-man robbery gang, all clad in black T-shirts and jean trousers, wore black facemasks, and brandished riffles in an operation that lasted about 3 minutes.
The suspects, however, escaped the scene with their targeted money, stacked in two ‘Ghana-Must-Go’ bags, after demobilizing the car of their victim, a Hausa trader, who rode the area in a Toyota Venza salon car, marked, (ABUJA) ABC 565 GN.
An eyewitness, who was at the robbery scene, observed that the robbery suspects, who operated in a tinted Toyota Camry ‘Muscle’, had at around 4: 35p.m on Friday afternoon, intercepted their victim right in front of the FATGBEMS Petroleum Filling Station at Oke – Sokori, where they forcefully halted the victim’s Toyota Venza car and forced the car’s boot open.
After gaining entry into his car, the suspects thereafter offloaded the two bags containing the foreign currency into their car and also zoomed off with the victim’s car key before security operatives arrived.
Narrating his ordeal to the two police patrol teams that later arrived at the scene about 30 minutes after the robbery incident, the victim, said he was returning to his base after an unsuccessful banking attempt where he had gone to deposit the foreign currency.
In his narration, the Abeokuta-based Hausa trader told the police patrol team that he had earlier approached the Oke-Ilewo branch of a new generation bank for the purpose of depositing the money, but was turned back on the premise that the banking hours had lapsed.
But while returning to his base, the robbers struck and the trader fell victim.
Confirming the incident, the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Abimbola Oyeyemi, said operatives of the command were already on the trail of the criminals.
“It is quite unfortunate that the suspects had escaped the scene before our operatives arrived at the scene. But I want to assure you that we will definitely get them and bring them to justice.
“The command had immediately upon receipt of information about the incident, sent a signal across the state to ensure that the suspects are tracked down. All our technical units have been activated and for sure, we will get them”.
“I want to use this medium to assure the good people of Ogun State that they should not panic, saying that there is no course for alarm. They should remain calm, and go about their normal and routine businesses because our men will surely track down the suspects”.
NDLEA warns youths against drug abuse
The chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.) has cautioned young Nigerians against the use of illicit drugs.
The NDLEA boss made the call on Wednesday in Abuja, while speaking on the topic: “Culture, drug abuse and the future of Nigerian youths” at the National Institute for Cultural Orientation’s 2023 Annual Public Lecture.
Marwa, who was represented at the event by Mrs. Anthonia Madubuike, praised NICO for its thoughtfulness in organising the annual lecture series.
Marwa noted that the event demonstrated NICO’s strong commitment and passion for eliminating the scourge of drug abuse and its consequences on society.
“This event is apt and timely because it creates awareness of the dangers inherent in drug abuse. It also sensitises members of the society on their roles in drug abuse prevention, treatment and care.
“Substance abuse has medical, social, economic and psychological consequences on user, family and on society at large,” the NDLEA boss said.
Marwa stated that young people who frequently use drugs are more likely to face problems such as academic difficulties, health-related issues, poor relationships with peers, and involvement with the juvenile justice system.
He also highlighted the negative consequences of drug abuse, such as violence, rape, suicide, paranoia, poor academic performance, dropping out of school, poor health, financial debt, and wasted resources.
He stressed that drug abusers are more likely to be involved in cultism, thuggery, kidnapping, terrorism, racketeering, and armed robbery.
Marwa highlighted the importance of empowering young people by providing them with high-quality education, skill acquisition opportunities, employment, access to healthcare, and social support systems.
“Addressing drug abuse requires a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services that should be accessible, affordable and culturally sensitive.
“Drug abuse prevention efforts should focus on education and awareness about attendant risks and enhancement of protective factors such as family and community support,’’ he stated.
Marwa advised that school curricula should include drug abuse education to enlighten young people about the risks of drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking. He recommended that this education should be directed towards students, principals, teachers, counsellors, and school administrators.
He urged governments, civil society organisations, communities, religious leaders, professional bodies, and NGOs to work together and create a supportive environment to promote the positive development of Nigerian youths. He also advised parents to be involved in their children’s education, and pay attention to their activities, the company they keep, and their internet usage.
“Schools should also establish a tripartite communication between parents, schools and students.
“Leveraging technology and media to disseminate information, focusing on positive role models and inspiring narratives can help to shape cultural norms and attitudes towards drug abuse.
“Culture, drug abuse and the future of the Nigerian youth are interconnected.
“Recognising and respecting cultural values while addressing the challenges of drug abuse can provide Nigerian youths with opportunities to thrive and contribute positively to national development,’’ he stressed.
EFCC arraigns Lagos businesswoman Ramalan-Yaro, company for N140bn fraud
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday arraigned Saadatu Ramalan-Yaro, a businesswoman, for the second time in Lagos State, two weeks after her first arraignment.
The businesswoman was brought before Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court in Abuja on charges of money laundering amounting to over N140 billion. She is accused of not fulfilling her responsibilities as the director of Tsami Babi Resources Limited, a designated non-financial business, by not submitting the company’s activities.
The EFCC stated that Ramalan-Yaro deposited N100 billion into the company’s account with Zenith Bank without informing the Ministry of Commerce.
The act committed by the accused contravenes Sections 5(1) (a) and 16(1) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2011 (as amended), and is punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
In the second charge, Ramallan-Yaro and M.A.Y. Fine Fragrance Limited, a designated non-financial institution, were accused of money laundering amounting to N40 billion. The accused pleaded not guilty, and the prosecution counsel requested a date for the commencement of the case.
The defense counsel, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), requested bail for the defendant, which was granted by Justice Egwuatu. The trial was adjourned until July 12 and 13, 2023.
The bail conditions required the defendant to deposit her international passport with the court and provide two sureties, one of whom must be a public servant and the other a relative, with a total bail amount of N100 million.
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