There were strong indications last night that suspended police chief Abba Kyari, taken into National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) custody yesterday, will be extradited to the United States after his probe for an illicit drug deal.
Sources said the Federal Government had concluded plans with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) to hand over the deputy commissioner of police, who is wanted for taking bribe from suspected celebrity internet fraudster, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, alias Hushpuppi, from a $1.1million loot.
It was also learnt that the police authorities delayed action on Kyari for four days until the Presidency directed Inspector-General Baba Usman to release him to the NDLEA.
Shortly before he was released to the anti-drug agency alongside four other police officers indicted for the same misdemeanour, the NDLEA had declared Kyari wanted after announcing his involvement with drugs and releasing a video of his attempt to bribe operatives to the public.
Sources said President Muhammadu Buhari received a report on Kyari from the Chairman of the NDLEA, Gen. Buba Marwa.
The other suspects taken into custody are Sunday Ubuah, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP); Bawa James, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP); Inspector Simon Agrigba and Inspector John Nuhu.
According to a top source in the presidency, the Federal Government was already finalising the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with the U.S. on Kyari’s extradition.
A Presidency source said: “The Federal Government has made up its mind to extradite Kyari when the NDLEA is done with him. There is already an ongoing talk between Nigeria and the United States.
“Already, the US has forwarded indictment documents and some evidence to the Federal Government. It claimed that there is a prima facie case against Kyari. The arrest of the top police cop has confirmed the suspicion of the USA.
“The final stage is the invocation of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and Kyari will be extradited to the United States for interrogation and trial.”
Another source said: “President Buhari was properly briefed by Gen. Marwa before the agency released its fact-sheet and video clip to the public.
“It was after the briefing that the agency set the machinery in motion to arrest Kyari and four others. Two drug suspects linked with the Kyari group are already in the agency’s custody.
“The interrogation of the five police officers will begin on Tuesday (today) alongside the two drug traffickers in NDLEA’s net.
“Both the traffickers and the police officers will have the opportunity to face detectives on how Kyari became an intermediary.
“It is expected that this action may lead to the unearthing of the drug cartel in the country.”
How presidency intervened
A source said: “Since last week, the NDLEA requested the release of Kyari and four other officers by the police. They were to be handed over on Thursday but no action was taken.
“The agency waited on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and till the early hours of Monday without any communication from the police.
“When the police were foot-dragging, the agency addressed the press on the facts and video clip at its disposal. NDLEA also declared Kyari wanted.
“The presidency immediately intervened and ordered the Inspector-General of Police to arrest and transfer the suspects to NDLEA.”
A statement by the Director, Media and Advocacy of NDLEA, Mr. Femi Babafemi, said justice will take its full course.
The statement said: “Few hours after he was declared wanted by the NDLEA over his involvement in a 25 kilograms cocaine deal, the Nigerian Police Force has handed over Kyari…to the anti-narcotic agency.
“Five of the wanted suspects…were driven into the National Headquarters of NDLEA in Abuja at about 5pm on Monday to formally hand them over for interrogation and further investigation.
“The agency wishes to assure that no stone will be left unturned to ensure that all suspects already in custody and those that may still be indicted in the course of the investigation will face the full weight of the law at the end of the ongoing probe.”
‘Why NDLEA declared Kyari wanted’
At a briefing on why Kyari was wanted, Babafemi said the NDLEA believed “strongly” that the suspended officer was “a member of a drug cartel that operates the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria illicit drug pipeline, and he needs to answer questions that crop up in an ongoing drug case in which he is the principal actor”.
He said Kyari, despite being suspended, led a team that “intercepted” some traffickers.
Giving details of Kyari’s involvement, the spokesman said: “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, Kyari informed him he was coming to see him, to discuss an operational matter after the 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.”
The spokesman said it was reminiscent of a recent case in which a drug kingpin flew from Brazil to negotiate the release of a 27.95 kg shipment of cocaine intercepted at the airport, offering a bribe of $24, 500 to an officer, who refused it.
“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.
“According to him, the informants were given 7kg while his team took 8kg which was already sold.
“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 proceed 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.”