United States authorities Wednesday said one of Nigeria’s top policemen, Abba Kyari, allegedly worked with Ramon Abass, also known as Hushpuppi, to punish the latter’s partner with whom he defrauded a Qatari of $1.1 million.
Kyari is a decorated deputy commissioner in the Nigeria Police Force.
The accusation came after Hushpuppi reportedly pleaded guilty to charges of fraud in an American court on Tuesday.
But Kyari denied any wrongdoing, saying that Hushpuppi’s partner was arrested after his office was called about a potential case of threat to life.
“Nobody demanded any money from Abbas Hushpuppi and nobody collected any money from him,” Kyari said. “We responded to a distress call he made on threat to his family and released the suspect when we discovered there was no life threat from the suspect.”
The United States Department of Justice said in a statement that Hushpuppi connived with one Abdulrahman Imraan Juma, a.k.a. “Abdul,” 28, of Kenya, and Kelly Chibuzo Vincent, 40, of Nigeria, to defraud the Qatari businessperson by claiming to be consultants and bankers who could facilitate a loan to finance the construction of a school.
The DoJ said the Kenyan national allegedly posed as a facilitator and consultant for the non-existing bank loans, while Hushpuppi acted as “Malik,” a Wells Fargo banker in New York.
Vincent was alleged to have “provided support for the false narratives fed to the victim by, among other things, creating bogus documents and arranging for the creation of a fake bank website and phone banking line.”
Another Nigerian, 26-year-old Yusuf Adekinka Anifowoshe, participated in the fraud with a call to the victim posing as “Malik.” Anifowoshe was arrested on July 22.
The Abba Kyari Angle
A dispute arose in the gang with Vincent, which prompted Vincent to contact the victim and claim that Abbas and Juma were engaged in fraud.
After Vincent contacted the Qatari businessperson, court documents claimed that Hushpuppi allegedly arranged with Abba Kyari, a deputy commissioner of police, to have Vincent jailed in Nigeria.
Kyari, according to the DoJ statement, allegedly arranged for Vincent to be arrested and jailed. The top cop also allegedly sent Abbas photographs of Vincent after his arrest as proof to Hushpuppi.
“Kyari also allegedly sent Abbas bank account details for an account into which Abbas could deposit payment for Vincent’s arrest and imprisonment,” the Department of Justice said in the statement.
But Kyari said he never connived with the scammer. He insisted Vincent was arrested and released based on an allegation of threat to life. He also said he never collected a dime from Hushpuppi.
“Abbas who we later came to know as Hushpuppi called our office about 2years ago that somebody in Nigeria Seriously threatened to kill his Family here in Nigeria and he sent the person’s Phone number and pleaded we take action before the Person attacks his family,” Kyari said.
“We traced and arrested the suspect and after investigations, we discovered there wasn’t an actual threat to anyone’s life And they are long time friends who have money issues between them hence we released the Suspect on bail to go and he was not taken to any jail.”
How the money was laundered
On July 22, American investigators arrested two other persons involved in the fraud. The two were believed to have been involved in laundering the proceed of the fraud.
According to the indictment, Abbas was assisted in laundering the proceeds of the fraud by Rukayat Motunraya Fashola, a.k.a. “Morayo,” 28, of Valley Stream, New York, and Bolatito Tawakalitu Agbabiaka, a.k.a. “Bolamide,” 34, of Linden, New Jersey.
Anifowoshe, Fashola and Agbabiaka are expected to be arraigned in Los Angeles in August.
Part of the money, investigators said, was converted to $50, 000 cashier checks which Hushpuppi and another conspirator used in acquiring the citizenship of Christopher and Nevis, a tiny island nation in the Caribbean also known as Sit Kitts and Nevis.
About $230,000 of the stolen funds was allegedly used to purchase a Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which was hand-delivered to Abbas in Dubai and subsequently appeared in Hushpuppi’s social media posts.
Below is a transcript from the 69 page report of the United States District Court for the Central District of Califonia which indicted Abba Kyari:
44. ABBAS responded, “Let me know how I can send money to the team sir[.] let them deal with him like armed robber.” KYARI responded, “OK I will send their account details to u.” ABBAS further wrote, “He betray me and try to take food out my mouth, this is great punishable sin,” and KYARI responded, “Yeah bro.” ABBAS then continued, “I want him to suffer for many years.” KYARI responded, “Hahahaha [¶] Hahahaha.”
145. Approximately six minutes later, 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. ABBAS responded “Ok sir, tomorrow by noon,” indicating that he would make the payment to KYARI’s team by the next day.
146. On the same day, ABBAS sent JUMA the photograph of CHIBUZO in custody, which KYARI had sent.
147. Approximately a month later, on February 19, 2020, KYARI sent a message to ABBAS, saying, “Hello hush with [sic] need to talk about the subject under detention with me.” ABBAS asked “Should I call u on this number sir?” to which KYARI replied “Yes call me.”
148. The following day, KYARI sent ABBAS multiple photographs of CHIBUZO to ABBAS, including close-up photographs showing a rash or skin disease on CHIBUZO’s torso and arms. ABBAS responded, “I don pity am, make them leave am from Tuesday.” KYARI wrote, “Ok bro, they just brought him from hospital. The fever and the rashes is giving him serious Wahala [¶] He got the disease from other suspects in the cell.” ABBAS responded, “I see am, I no too pity am [¶] That’s what people like him deserve but I go forgive am for God sake.” In other words, based on my training and experience with Nigerian Pidgin,
Case 2:21-cr-00203-ODW Document 1 Filed 02/12/21 Page 60 of 69 Page ID #:60
ABBAS was essentially stating, in part, “I don’t pity him. That’s what people like him deserve, but I will forgive him for God’s sake.”
a. Based on the date of the messages and later discussion described in paragraph 150, ABBAS was—on Thursday, February 20, 2020— requesting that KYARI not to release CHIBUZO until Tuesday, February 25, 2020.
149. ABBAS then told KYARI that CHIBUZO’s girlfriend messaged him, trying to raise one million Naira to secure CHIBUZO’s release, and said ABBAS promised to contribute 100,000 Naira. KYARI stated “They were thinking it’s normal arrest that is why they think money can remove him . . . No money can remove him here [¶] Hahahaha.” ABBAS added, “But it’s better for them to think that way, I like it like that,” and KYARI responded, “Yeah.”
150. ABBAS then said, “No problem sir from Tuesday he can go,” apparently giving KYARI his blessing to release CHIBUZO from custody. KYARI responded, “Ok bro [¶] We will also keep his phone and other gadgets for some weeks.” ABBAS responded, “Yes those ones they should not give him again, those ones are gone . . . Make he no see those ones again for life,” instructing KYARI not to return CHIBUZO’s electronic devices. KYARI responded, “Yes he will not see it [¶] Again,” indicating that he would accede to ABBAS’ request.