By Babajide Okeowo
The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami has disclosed that the Federal Government is collaborating with the United States regarding the allegations against a police officer, Abba Kyari, and suspected fraudster, Ramon Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi.
Top of these actions, according to the Minister of Justice Malami, is the collaboration with the United States government to ensure justice is served.
“The position now is that there are prima facie grounds – reasonable grounds for suspicion that have been considered from the perspective of prosecution, from the perspective of likely extradition, if the need for so doing arises,” said the Minister who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“It is an issue that has both national and international dimensions and in respect of the two, actions are being taken; it is a work in progress locally and internationally and we are doing whatever it takes to ensure justice is done within the context of the law, regardless of the personalities involved.”
Hushpuppi, an Instagram influencer, was arrested in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June 2020, and was extradited to the U.S. where most of the victims of his alleged fraudulent activities are based.
Having spent about one year in custody maintaining his innocence, he later pleaded guilty to multi-million-dollar fraud charges filed against him by the American government.
In the process, an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicted Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, leading to a warrant of arrest issued against him by a U.S. magistrate judge, Otis Wright.
This led to Kyari’s suspension from the police and from his position as the Head of Intelligence Response Team (IRT) by the Police Service Commission in August last year.
Six months after his suspension, the AGF told Channels Television on Monday that the Nigerian government was working with the U.S. on the cases against Kyari and Hushpuppi.
He stressed that issues that have to do with criminality and enforcement of laws associated with crimes and offences could have local and international colorations.
Malami described Hushpuppi’s case as one involving multiple jurisdictions – Nigeria, the U.S., and the UAE.
“Within the context of the international comity of nations, as it relates to the prosecution of cases, the international community is indeed collaborating and providing the necessary support for the purpose of ensuring that justice is done to the case with the peculiarities of the matter taken into consideration.
“So, what I am saying, in essence, is that internationally and locally, all hands are on deck,” said the minister who commended the existing collaboration between Nigeria and the U.S. in tackling criminality.
“So, Nigeria is, indeed, doing the needful by way of supporting what America is doing for the purpose of ensuring that the cases are tried accordingly within the context of the American aspect of it, and then eventually if there is need for local prosecution, nothing as well stops it.”
According to the AGF, both countries have made progress in terms of joint investigations and the outcomes, although no prosecution is happening yet in Nigeria.
He restated that the government would not rule out the possibility of consideration for the extradition of Kyari, as there have been exchanges of correspondence in that regard as well as investigation and associated matters.
Asked if the suspended police officer was guilty of the offences he was accused of, Malami responded, “You cannot find someone guilty but perhaps, the reasonable ground for suspicion can be established and will translate to prosecution that will eventually translate to it (being found guilty).
“Reasonable ground for suspicion has been established and that will eventually translate to the possibility of prosecution and eventual conviction if, indeed, at the end of the day one is adjudged guilty by a court of law.”