For the best part of his career as a policeman, Abba Kyari, a 45-year-old Deputy Commissioner of Police and leader of the Inspector-General of Police's Intelligence Response Team, has been regarded as Nigeria’s ‘super cop’.
But following recent revelations of extortion against Kyari, a pattern has emerged showing his penchant for extortion and extrajudicial killing.
For instance, on October 29, 2020, a Nigerian businessman named Mr Afeez Mojeed wrote a petition to the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry investigating activities of officers of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Following days of protests across the country, the Nigerian Government succumbed to the yearnings of the people by scrapping SARS -- a police unit know for arbitrary arrests, extortions and killings.
While sharing his experience with the now disbanded group, Mojeed revealed that Kyari extorted over N41m from him.
The businessman revealed that the incident happened in 2014 when Kyari was then Officer-in-Charge of SARS in Lagos and oversaw his detention for 14 days during which period his car and other belongings were seized and sold by the ‘super cop’.
He added that within that 14-day period he was unlawfully detained in the custody of SARS, Kyari and his cronies extorted him of millions of naira.
“He was later arraigned in court on trump-up charge of stealing N97, 000, 000 (Ninety-seven Million Naira only) and for over one (l) year the matter was in court, the police never showed up or brought any witness, after several adjournments, which made the court to strike out the charge against him.
“It needs be pointed out that, while in detention, the police under the supervision and threat by Abba Kyari (OC SARS) forced him to sign Three (3) Zenith Bank cheques in the sum of N150, 000 (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira only) each making N450, 000 (Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira only) in total on 22nd - 23rd October, 2014 and gave same to One Alabi Olawale Nurudeen who is also one of their cronies to withdraw.
“They also forcefully obtained the password to his ATM card of this same bank with which they withdrew from his account severally from 20th – 23rd October 2014 to the tune of N395,000.
“As if these were not enough, the police, led by one Inspector Fola, Corporal Bolu Corporal Akeem under the directive of Abba Kyari and J. Okeke (Second in Command SARS) Ikeja then took our client to Diamond Bank, Ajah Branch, on 23rd and 24th October, 2014 to forcefully transfer the sum of N41, 000, 000 (Forty-one Million Naira only) and N800, 000 (Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) respectively from his corporate account M. Mateen Concepts into the account of one Obinna Edward, whom our client had never seen or heard of before, after which they shared the money,” Mojeed told the panel through his lawyers.
Curiously, it is not the first time that allegations of extortion and abuse of office would be levelled against Kyari – in fact each time such pops up in the news, the police authorities have found a way to shield the supposed ‘star boy’ of the law enforcement agency from further scrutiny and punishment.
In January, 2019, Mrs Gift Ezenwa, wife of a notorious kidnapper, Collins Ezenwa nicknamed ‘E-Money’ and killed in 2018 during an exchange of gunfire along Enugu-Owerri Expressway, accused Kyari and his team of taking over her husband’s assets illegally.
The National Human Rights Commission in a petition in October 2018 to then Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, also accused Kyari of illegally depleting the asset of Ezenwa, a former police corporal.
Kyari denied the allegation, describing it as cheap blackmail and an attempt by Mrs Ezenwa to dent the image of his team after he refused a bribe to settle the case against her late husband.
"The family of the kidnapper were begging to settle with us but we refused. Then, they vowed to spend money to spoil our names as all their efforts to transfer the case out of our office failed,” he said.
In October 2019, Kyari and his team were again in the news after a Federal High Court sitting in Jos, Plateau State, ordered the IRT to produce a suspect before it either dead or alive.
Justice Dorcas Agishi of Federal High Court 1 gave the order while ruling on two applications filed before her by Mr D.G. Dashe, counsel to the suspect, Mr Nanpon Sambo, who was alleged to have died in police custody in Abuja, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.
But rather than obeying the court order, Kyari in December 2019 filed motions asking the same court for stay of execution on the matter.
“l wonder why they could go on appeal of such an order because if the suspect is dead as they claimed and the court has ordered them to produce the corpse, they should just comply, ” the defense counsel said.
Not much had been heard of that case since that period.
Following the disbandment of some police units by Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, recently, news went out that the IRT was affected but Kyari in an apparent bid to save his job quickly debunked that claim, going as far as saying that DCP Ben Okolo, who was said to have taken over his role, was only drafted to the IRT as head of the Routine Audit Team to audit arms, exhibits, operational vehicles, suspects etc.
According to top police sources, who spoke with SaharaReporters, there are series of allegations against Kyari and his team on corruption, extortion and summary executions before the IGP but this was being covered up as a result of the backing the 45-year-old police officer enjoys.
"He enjoys the backing of higher authorities and that is why most of the allegations against him and his team are swept under the carpet," one source in the police told SaharaReporters.
As more victims of police brutality and extortion share their chilling stories at the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry and the others set up by various state governments across the country, the atrocities of police units like Kyari's IRT are expected to be furthered revealed.