The United States of America government has named a Nigerian celebrated police officer, Abba Kyari, among co-conspirators of Ramon Abass, aka Huspuppi, an Instagram celebrity, who has now admitted his guilt in a multi-million-dollars money laundering fraud.
Hushpuppi’s plea agreement with the U.S. government was filed at the Central District Court of Central District of California, on Tuesday, and a date will later be fixed for him to change his previous not-guilty plea to “guilty.”
Mr Kyari is named among five of Hushpuppi’s conspirators in a $1.1million fraud charge recently approved by a U.S. grand jury.
A grand jury in the U.S. is a judicial body that determines if there exists sufficient evidence to charge a suspect with a criminal offence.
Abba Kyari’s arrest
Following the grand jury’s finding approving three charges against Mr Abba Kyari and others, the judge, Otis Wright of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California , made the order unsealing the docket, essentially opening up the records for public accessibility on July 26.
The judge in issuing the unsealing order also granted the government’s request for detention order and arrest warrant against Mr Kyari and others.
In the indictment, Mr Kyari, a deputy commissioner of police, is alleged to have conspired with Hushpuppi “together with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, knowingly conspired to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343”.
He along with others is also accused of conducting financial transactions involving proceeds of unlawful activity, and aiding and abetting illegal use and transfer of a means of identification.
Others named along with Mr Kyari in the indictment are: Abdulrahman Juma (aka Abdul and Rahman), Kelly Chibuzo Vincent, Rukayat Motunrayo Fashola (aka Morayo), Bolatito Takakalitu Agbabiaka (aka Bolamide), and Yusuf Adeyinka Anifowoshe (aka AJ and Alvin Johnson).
They are all named in a $1.1 million fraud coordinated by Hushpuppi and others against a businessperson in Qatar between November 2019 and April 2020.
Mr Kyari, a police officer with a public image that has earned him accolades as a daring and effective crime buster, is a recipient of Nigeria’s House of Representatives’ honour.
Abba Kyari’s involvement
Hushpuppi, a resident of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), until his arrest in June 2020, had contacted Mr Kyari to arrange the arrest of one of the arrowheads of the heist, Chibuzo (Vincent), who was unhappy over his share of the proceeds of the fraud, and was prepared to hint the victim, a Qatari businessperson, to stop payments.
“CHIBUZO’s messages to ABBAS during that time show that he was unhappy with the amount that, and/or speed with which, ABBAS was paying him, so he contacted the Victim Businessperson directly,” a special agent of the Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI), Andrew John Innocenti, said in an affidavit filed in support of the charge.
Mr Innocenti, whose account was based on message conversation extracted from Abass telephones, added, “CHIBUZO told the Victim Businessperson that JUMA and ABBAS were ‘fake,’ in an attempt to convince the Victim Businessperson to stop making fraudulent payments to ABBAS and JUMA, and to make fraudulent payments to him instead.
“When JUMA and ABBAS learned of CHIBUZO’s interference, ABBAS arranged to have KYARI—a highly decorated Deputy Commissioner of the Nigeria Police Force—arrest CHIBUZO for interfering with the fraud scheme.
“ABBAS specifically told KYARI that CHIBUZO contacted ‘the job’ behind ABBAS’ back to ‘divert the job for himself.’
“ABBAS asked KYARI to have the police administer the ‘serious beating of his life’ and arranged with KYARI to pay to keep CHIBUZO imprisoned for at least a month, so that the fraud scheme could be successfully executed, and the money could be obtained.”
Mr Kyari was said to have arrested Chibuzo and held him in custody for about a month as instructed by Hushpuppi.
He sent Chibuzo’s photograph in custody to Hushpuppi, the federal agent said, “and also facilitated payments from ABBAS to the Nigeria Police Force personnel who arrested CHIBUZO.”
This, according to Mr Innocenti, was “to ensure CHIBUZO’s continued arrest, thereby preventing CHIBUZO from notifying the Victim Businessperson of ABBAS’ and JUMA’s fraudulent scheme and preventing CHIBUZO from hijacking the scheme for his own benefit.
The decorated Nigerian cop was also said to have “told ABBAS that he would not allow CHIBUZO’s girlfriend to pay money to get CHIBUZO out of custody as he would have done for a ‘normal arrest’.
After Chibuzo’s arrest, the special agent said, “JUMA and ABBAS convinced the Victim Businessperson to make the payments of $299,983.58 described above.”
“KYARI’s knowing involvement in the scheme allowed ABBAS and JUMA to continue defrauding the Victim Businessperson undetected and receive money obtained from the Victim Businessperson after it was laundered,” the document added.
Abba Kyari, Huspuppi in Dubai
The FBI special agent said Huspuppi appeared to have first interacted with Mr Kyari during the police officer’s trip to Dubai in September 2019.
He said conversations between them showed that Hushpuppi sent a car and a driver to drive Mr Kyari around in Dubai.
“Soon thereafter, KYARI sent ABBAS a video slideshow which showed some personal photographs of KYARI, some of which appeared to have been taken in the U.A.E,” Mr Innocenti added.
He said further that later in September “after KYARI sent ABBAS an article that discussed him arresting alleged kidnappers, ABBAS wrote, in part, to KYARI, ‘Am really happy to be ur boy,’ and later, ‘I promise to be a good boy to u sir’.
The three charges approved by the U.S. grand jury including an allegation that Mr Kyari “together with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, knowingly conspired to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343”.
The grand jury alleged in the second count that they conducted and attempted “to conduct financial transactions, affecting interstate and foreign commerce, knowing that the property involved in the financial transactions represented the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, which, in fact, involved the proceeds of specified unlawful activity — namely, wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343”.
They were also said to have aided and abetted one another and knowingly in transferring, possessing and using, without lawful authority, a means of identification that each defendant knew belonged to another person, during and in relation to a felony violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, as charged in Count 1.
‘It was a response to distress call’ – Kyari
Mr Kyari took to his Facebook page on Tuesday to react to the revelation about his indictment.
He said he was contacted by Hushpuppi about two years ago complaining that somebody was threatening to kill his family members.
He admitted picking the suspect up but claimed that no one “demanded” money from Hushpuppi.
“Nobody demanded for a kobo from Abbas Hushpuppi. Our focus was to Save people’s lives that were purported to have been threatened,” he said.
He insisted that his team only “responded to a distress call he made on threat to his family and released the suspect when we discovered there was no life threat from the suspect.”
“This is the true story. Vincent Chibuzo) is alive, he can be contacted,” he added.
He said he only introduced the accused to a cloth seller whom Mr Abbas directly paid about N300,000 into the person’s personal account.
EFCC, police keep mum
he Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday declined comments on whether it had launched an investigation into the allegations against Mr Kyari.
The EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Iwajuren, told PREMIUM TIMES that the anti-graft agency does not answer questions on whether it is planning to investigate the case.
“We don’t answer that kind of question. Have you ever seen EFCC telling people what they want to do?” Mr Iwajuren told this reporter.
Similar attempts to hear from the police spokesperson, Frank Mba, were abortive as he did not answer calls.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...