FLASHBACK: The 2019 Investigations that Nailed Abba Kyari

July 29, 2021
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Abba Kyari, a 46-year-old Deputy Commissioner of Police and leader of the Inspector General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT), was on Wednesday named in a report by an officer of the US Federal Bureau of Invetigation (FIB) as one of six persons who conspired to fraudulently obtain over $1m from a business person.

However, the report, which has travelled far and wide on the social media, is not the first to indict the police chief. In 2019, the IRT, an elite crime-bursting squad led by Kyari, came under fire over its fraudulent take-over of multibillion naira properties owned by Collins Ezenwa, a suspected kidnapper killed by the police the previous year.

After conducting their separate investigations, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Amnesty International had accused Kyari’s IRT of gross human rights abuses and illegal expropriation of suspected proceeds of crime.

In a petition to Ibrahim Idris, the then Inspector General of Police, Amnesty International had said that the Kyari-led team had been maltreating Ezenwa’s wife while depleting his assets, which included an N220million hotel in Enugu and eight apartments worth about N180million.

These were the properties that were identified as of the time the petition was sent to Mr Idris on October 23, 2018, and they did not include a fleet of exotic vehicles that Ezenwa owned.

According to Amnesty International, the alleged kidnapper was killed by the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Imo State, but in a desperate plot to have access to his properties, Kyari and his men had taken over the case.

Damian Ugwu, a researcher with Amnesty International, told Premium Times that the IRT started aiming for Ezenwa’s properties immediately he was killed.

“Because of their unlimited powers in the Police, they dubiously took over the case from the Imo State command and started identifying possible assets of Mr Ezenwa shortly after he was killed,” Ugwu said.

“They threw his wife and infant son out of some properties, including his hotel, and started collecting rents from them. More than a year later, they have not approached any court for an order to confiscate his properties. Our findings showed that they were just collecting rents and putting the money in private accounts for their own use.”

Ezenwa’s wife, who was four months pregnant when her husband was killed, gave birth on June 17, 2019, and was arrested less than two months after. She was whisked to Lagos by Kyari’s men and detained for two weeks.

Mrs. Ezenwa revealed that Kyari ordered her release on the grounds that she would turn in all the original documents of the properties.

Ugwu also revealed that several family members and associates of the deceased were also arrested and victimised in the process.

Although, Kyari denied allegations of victimizing the deceased’s wife, he claimed to have the right to confiscate her husband’s properties. However, Abdul Mahmud, a Nigerian Lawyer and convener of the Public Interest Lawyers League, debunked the claim. The lawyer said only the “court could deprive a citizen of a disputed property”.

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