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Ekeomah Atuonwu

Nigeria’s deputy commissioner of police, suspended last year after being implicated in fraud in the United States, is now wanted by the Nigerian judiciary for his alleged role in international drug trafficking.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) announced on Monday that it had issued an arrest warrant for the commissioner, Abba Kyari.

The deputy commissioner of police, who was suspended in August 2021, was summoned several times to be heard on his alleged involvement in cocaine trafficking, but never showed up, the Nigerian agency said.

NDLEA spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, at a press briefing in Abuja on Monday, narrated that Kyari belonged to a drug cartel that operates the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria illicit drug pipeline.

“The agency strongly believes that Assistant Commissioner of Police Kyari is a member of a drug cartel that controls the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria route” through which drugs are transported, he said.

Kyari, he said, tried to compromise an NDLEA officer in January by asking him to hide part of 25 kg of seized cocaine.

Kyari was investigated in Nigeria after a Nigerian social networking celebrity Ramon Abbas, aka, Hushpuppi, on trial for fraud in the United States claimed he was their accomplice. He had also been suspended from the police force.

Femi Babafemi, spokesman of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency /Courtesy/

Hushpuppi also paid the police officer N8m ($20,600) for the arrest and custody of a “co-conspirator,” Chibuzo Vincent, according to FBI Special Agent Andrew Innocenti, who said he obtained voice calls and WhatsApp discussions between Kyari and Hushpuppi.

The FBI had been directed by the US Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California to arrest Kyari, but the IGP and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had evasively shielded Kyari till now.

Most Nigerians who encountered the police last year say they had to pay bribes and found it difficult to get help.

According to citizens’ feedback, Nigeria’s police are frequently seen as crooked, unhelpful, and untrustworthy – a deeply negative view that has fueled recent protests against police abuses, drawing international attention to Nigeria.

While the government’s decision to dissolve the infamous Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) sparked initial protests, protestors’ calls for police reform have not subsided

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Ekeomah Atuonwu