A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Muiz Banire, says that a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, could turn himself in to the Interpol if he is certain that he is innocent of the allegations preferred against him by the United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California.
The American court had issued an arrest warrant against Kyari for his alleged role in the case of alleged international fraud involving five other persons and running into over $1m.
He noted, however, that Kyari’s indictment by the American court is a dent on Nigeria’s image.
Banire spoke on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics programme.
The Lagos State ex-Environment commissioner was reacting to DCP Kyari’s suspension by the Police Service Commission on Sunday.
According to a statement by the commission’s Head of Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, the decision to suspend Kyari was conveyed in a letter signed by a retired justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi.
Speaking on the Channels TV programme, Banire said, “Certainly, it is a dent on the image of the country, but we are handling the issue very well so far.
“What is going on is an internal investigation of the matter and, until a prima facie case is established against the officer, he is still presumed innocent.”
Banire’s view tallies with the American court’s Press statement on Kyari’s arrest warrant, which stated that “A criminal complaint and an indictment contain allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Continuing, Banire said, “Even at that, I’m not aware of any specific request for extradition now. All that we have learnt so far now is that there is an arrest warrant issued by a court of law in the United States, the implication of which is that the Interpol is supposed to execute it anywhere the officer [Kyari] is found.”
On what the law says about the arrest warrant issued by the Central District of California against Kyari, Banire said, “He is wanted in the United States for the purpose of prosecution, but then, before a Nigerian citizen can be extradited, there are processes to be followed.
“Although the law is neither here nor there, I know that there is this 1967 Legal Notice that is often relied upon by the Office of Attorney General of the Federation when it comes to the issue of extradition between Nigeria and the United States.
“However, some of us believe that Section 12 of the Nigerian Constitution will certainly override that particular Legal Notice and, for that, it cannot be said that there is an extradition treaty that is enforceable between Nigeria and the United States.
“But be that as it may, my expectation is that, before we can even go to that level, the preliminary investigation as it is about to be done is necessary for us to establish a prima facie case before we can trigger the process of any extradition.”
In addition, the Senior Advocate said that, based on personal point of view, Kyari could turn himself in to the Interpol if he is sure of his innocence.
“In my point of view, morally speaking, in allegation of this nature, there is nothing wrong, particularly if the officer is sure of himself, to even turn himself in; because, so far, there is no complications in the matter, and there is nothing wrong in running there to say, ‘Look, I want to clear my reputation.’
“So, beyond the investigation being done by the government, he can also avail of himself of the opportunity that is already afforded.
“So, as far as law is concerned, what is being done is due process.”
The US Department of Justice, District of California, on July 28 released a statement titled, ‘Six Indicted in International Scheme to Defraud Qatari School Founder and then Launder over $1 Million in Illicit Proceeds,’ in which Kyari’s name featured.
According to the statement, A federal grand jury indictment alleges an elaborate scheme to steal more than $1.1 million from a businessperson attempting to finance the construction of a school for children in Qatar – and the subsequent laundering of illicit proceeds through bank accounts around the world.
The three-count indictment charges three U.S.-based defendants who were arrested the previous week – as well as three defendants believed to be in Africa – with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.
The criminal complaint that initiated the prosecution in February also revealed that Ramon Olorunwa Abbas – also known by his social media handle of “Ray Hushpuppi” – was initially charged in the case.
“Court documents show that Abbas, a 37-year-old Nigerian national, pleaded guilty on April 20. A version of Abbas’ plea agreement filed late Tuesday outlines his role in the school-finance scheme, as well as several other cyber and business email compromise schemes that cumulatively caused more than $24 million in losses.
“The defendants allegedly faked the financing of a Qatari school by playing the roles of bank officials and creating a bogus website in a scheme that also bribed a foreign official to keep the elaborate pretense going after the victim was tipped off,” said Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison.
“Mr. Abbas, who played a significant role in the scheme, funded his luxurious lifestyle by laundering illicit proceeds generated by con artists who use increasingly sophisticated means. In conjunction with our law enforcement partners, we will identify and prosecute perpetrators of business email compromise scams, which is a massive and growing international crime problem.”
“Mr. Abbas, among the most high-profile money launderers in the world, has admitted to his significant role in perpetrating global BEC fraud, a scheme currently plaguing Americans,” said Kristi K. Johnson, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
“His celebrity status and ability to make connections seeped into legitimate organizations and led to several spin-off schemes in the U.S. and abroad. Today’s announcement deals a crucial blow to this international network and hopefully serves as a warning to potential victims targeted with this type of theft.”
Court documents outline a dispute among members of the conspiracy, which allegedly prompted one of them, Vincent Kelly Chibuzo, to contact the victim and claim that Abbas and others were engaged in fraud.
“After this contact, Abbas allegedly arranged to have Vincent jailed in Nigeria by Abba Alhaji Kyari, 46, of Nigeria.
“According to the affidavit, Kyari is a highly decorated deputy commissioner of the Nigeria Police Force who is alleged to have arranged for Vincent to be arrested and jailed at Abbas’ behest, and then sent Abbas photographs of Vincent after his arrest. Kyari also allegedly sent Abbas bank account details for an account into which Abbas could deposit payment for Vincent’s arrest and imprisonment.”