By Kingsley Omonobi
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Muiz Banire has disclosed that the head of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, who is currently on suspension, pending outcome of the DIG Egbunike led Special Investigation Panel, can surrender himself to the Interpol if he sure that he is innocent of the allegations preferred against him by jailed Fraudster, Abbas Ramon aka Hushpuppi in a United States Central District in California.
Hushpuppi who has been in a US jail for one year after he was arrested at Dubai for defrauding a Qatari businessman of $1.1million alleged that he paid bribes to Abba Kyari to help arrest a co-fraudster (Chibuzor) over claim that he threatened to harm Hushpuppi’s family, an allegation Kyari has denied.
The American court consequently issued an arrest warrant against Kyari for his alleged role in the case of alleged international fraud involving five other persons.
However, Mr. Banire, a former Commissioner for environment in Lagos state while speaking on Channels Television ‘Sunday Politics’ programme, said, “A criminal complaint and an indictment contain allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“Even at that, I’m not aware of any specific request for extradition now. All that we have learnt so far now is that there is an arrest warrant issued by a court of law in the United States, the implication of which is that the Interpol is supposed to execute it anywhere the officer is found”.
“In my point of view, morally speaking, in allegation of this nature, there is nothing wrong, particularly if the officer is sure of himself, to even turn himself in; because, so far, there is no complications in the matter, and there is nothing wrong in running there to say, ‘Look, I want to clear my reputation.’
“So, beyond the investigation being done by the (Force headquarters) government, he can also avail of himself of the opportunity that is already afforded. So, as far as law is concerned, what is being done is due process.”
Continuing Banire said, “Yes, he is wanted in the United States for the purpose of prosecution, but then, before a Nigerian citizen can be extradited, there are processes to be followed.
“Although the law is neither here nor there, I know that there is this 1967 Legal Notice that is often relied upon by the Office of Attorney General of the Federation when it comes to the issue of extradition between Nigeria and the United States.
“However, some of us believe that Section 12 of the Nigerian Constitution will certainly override that particular Legal Notice and, for that, it cannot be said that there is an extradition treaty that is enforceable between Nigeria and the United States.
“But be that as it may, my expectation is that, before we can even go to that level, the preliminary investigation as it is about to be done is necessary for us to establish a prima facie case before we can trigger the process of any extradition.”
It will be recalled that the Police Service Commission on Sunday issued a statement signed by its Head of Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, saying the decision to suspend Kyari was conveyed in a letter signed by a retired justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi.
Regarding the SIP, Banire said, “What is going on is an internal investigation of the matter and, until a prima facie case is established against the officer, he is still presumed innocent. A criminal complaint and an indictment contain allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The US Department of Justice, District of California, had on July 28 2021, released a statement titled, ‘Six Indicted in International Scheme to Defraud Qatari School Founder and then Launder over $1 Million in Illicit Proceeds,’ in which Kyari’s name featured.
The three-count indictment charges contained in the Department of Justice statement said the six persons indicted in international scheme to Defraud Qatari School Founder and then Launder over $1 Million in Illicit Proceeds, had Kyari’s name among them noting that they in collaboration with Hushpuppi allegedly faked the financing of a Qatari school by playing the roles of bank officials and creating a bogus website in a scheme that also bribed a foreign official to keep the elaborate pretense going after the victim was tipped off.