Nigerian Internet fraud ringleader Ramon ‘Hushpuppi’ Abbas has told the United States District Court for the Central District of California that he is at risk of being harmed by disgraced police officer Abba Kyari.
Mr Abbas said his role in the indictment of Mr Kyari, which precipitated the downfall of Nigeria’s most-celebrated police officer, has put him at grave risk and he would not be able to return to Nigeria after serving his sentence in the U.S.
The pleas were outlined in a memorandum he submitted before Judge Otis Wright seeking a downward review of sentencing years demanded by the prosecutors after Mr Abbas pleaded guilty to multimillion-dollar fraud last year. Louis Shapiro, an American defence attorney hired by Mr Abbas, filed the memorandum on behalf of his client on September 5, per court filing.
The prosecutors have demanded up to 11 years in prison for Mr Abbas, as well as payment of $1.7 million in restitution and $500,000 in fines. A three-year supervised release after completion of the 11-year sentence was also recommended.
The defence, led by Mr Shapiro, countered the request, saying Mr Abbas had become a changed person since he was arrested in Dubai in June 2020, extradited to the U.S. in the same month and remanded in prison ever since. The defence, therefore, asked the court to hand Hushpuppi between 35-41 months in prison.
Mr Wright is expected to hear the matter on September 21 and subsequently determine sentencing duration. “Once this case is resolved and Mr. Abbas is released, that he will not be able to return to Nigeria,” Mr Shapiro wrote in the counter request. “Abubakar Kiyari, a Nigerian politician and police commissioner, operates a death squad. Kiyari was indicted in the Juma case by the government’s investigation into this case.”
“Mr. Abbas hopes to move his family out of Nigeria when he gets out of prison. The looming threat of Mr. Kiyari’s supporters, as well as intense media harassment, has forced his family to continue moving to secret locations within Nigeria.
“They must rent different apartments simultaneously while continuously changing telephone lines. Additionally, his children face the possibility of going through their formative years without their father,:” Mr Shapiro added.
Mr Abbas pleaded guilty in April 2021 to charges of Internet fraud, money laundering, among others. The FBI indicted Mr Kyari as part of the syndicate about the same time. Mr Kyari, hitherto Nigeria’s most famous and decorated police officer, was immediately suspended as a deputy police commissioner while extradition process continued from the U.S. side.
Last week, a Nigerian court ruled that Mr Kyari should not be extradited because he was already charged with more grievous crimes of drug trafficking by the Nigerian anti-narcotics authorities.