The suspended former Head of the Intelligence Response Team, Abba Kyari, has appeared before the Special Investigation Panel, headed by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in-charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department, Joseph Egbunike.
Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, presented his defence to the SIP at the Force headquarters,Abuja, on Tuesday.
A source, which confirmed that the SIP ended its Tuesday session around 8pm, said that “the panel started sitting since Monday. Kyari appeared before the panel members today (Tuesday) during which he presented his defence to the indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the SIP members. The panel would take it from there.”
Kyari is under investigation for involvement in a $1.1m Internet fraud allegedly perpetrated by Instagram influencer, Abbas Ramon, popularly known as Hushpuppi, and five others.
The FBI had claimed that Kyari detained one Kelly Chibuzor at the behest of Hushpuppi for one month to enable the latter and his co-conspirators fleece their Qatari victim of over $1m.
The agency also said Hushpuppi paid $20,600 to two bank accounts allegedly provided by the former IRT commander in January 20, 2020.
Kyari has denied wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, the new Head of the Intelligence Response Team, Tunji Disu, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, resumed at the Guzape, Abuja headquarters of the unit on Tuesday.
The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, approved the posting of Disu as the unit head on Monday following the police management’s decision to fill the leadership gap within the IRT caused by Kyari’s removal on Sunday.
An operative informed our correspondent that Disu breezed into the IRT headquarters on Tuesday and later left for an undisclosed location after spending some minutes.
Meanwhile, Kyari has deleted a post on his verified Facebook account after the FBI alleged that money laundering suspect, Abass Ramon, aka Hushpuppi, paid N8m or $20,600 to the police officer to arrest and detain a “co-conspirator,” Chibuzo Vincent.
Upon his indictment last week, Kyari had on July 29, 2021, published a defence against the allegation of collusion in an alleged $1.1m fraud against a Qatari businessman but he deleted the post last night after many Nigerians pointed out the logical gaps in his denial.
The United States District Court for the Central District of California had accused Kyari, Hushpuppi and four others of fleecing the Qatari investor of $1.1m.
Kyari, who has 447,353 followers on Facebook as of the time of filing this report, had taken to the Blueville on on July 29, 2021 to chronicle his denial against the allegations by the US court.
Kyari had claimed that Hushpuppi raised the alarm that Vincent wanted to take his life. The cop, however, said upon the arrest of Vincent, investigation showed that “they (Hushpuppi and Vincent) are long-time friends who have money issues between them hence we released the suspect on bail to go”.
The cop had also added, “Nobody demanded a kobo from Abbas Hushpuppi. Our focus was to save people’s lives that were purported to have been threatened.
“Later, he (Hushpuppi) saw some of my native clothes and caps on my social media page and he said he likes them and he was connected to the person selling the clothes and he sent about N300k (N300,000) directly to the person’s account. The native clothes and caps (five sets) were brought to our office and He sent somebody to collect them in our office.”
However, FBI Special Agent, Andrew Innocenti, in a document titled, ‘Criminal Complaint By Telephone Or Other Reliable Electronic Means’ filed before the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleged that Hushpuppi contracted the services of Kyari after Chibuzo allegedly threatened to expose the alleged $1.1m fraud committed against the Qatari businessman.
Page 59, item 145 of the document dated February 12, 2021 which became public recently stated, “Kyari provided the account information for a bank account at a Nigerian bank, Zenith Bank, in the name of a person other than Kyari himself.”
“This was not the only time that Abbas arranged payments with Kyari”, adding, “On May 20, 2020, Abbas sent Kyari transaction receipts for two transactions from accounts at Nigerian banks (GTBank and Zenith Bank) of a person Abbas knew in the U.A.E.— a person also arrested with Abbas in Abbas’ apartment in the U.A.E. by Dubai Police on June 9, 2020 — to the Nigerian bank accounts of another person in Nigeria.
“The amounts on the transaction receipts totalled 8 million Nigerian Naira, which was approximately $20,600 based on publicly available exchange rate information,” the FBI Agent added. A warrant of arrest has since been issued by the court against Kyari.
Kyari subsequently deleted his “N300,000” Facebook post after Innocenti’s accusation became public. He also deleted a third-party post authored by a former minister in his defence.
Kyari’s post had attracted a lot of scrutiny from thousands of his social media followers and many Nigerians who expressed disappointment in the conduct of the detective and “celebrated cop”.