~ As officials consider him for transfer to SSS custody
Prison officials are considering moving suspended police officer Abba Kyari to the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) from the Kuje prison after he nearly got murdered by aggrieved inmates, who accused him of insincerity in bribe-for-release deals when he was in active service.
According to internal documents and officials accessed by PREMIUM TIMES, the attack happened on May 4, months after Mr Kyari, who is on trial for drug-related offences, was remanded. His attackers were about 190, an official said, and they are mostly in prison for drug offences.
Mr Kyari, 47, a deputy commissioner of police, was a decorated cop and head of the elite Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector-General Police before his fall. First, he was suspended from police duties after being named last July by American investigators as an accomplice in the international fraud and money laundering scheme of Ramon Abbas, popularly called Hushpuppi.
Then, while on suspension and awaiting the outcome of an internal probe, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in February accused him of involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy. The agency released a video in which Mr Kyari appeared to be describing his use of his team to push drugs and discussing sharing of a criminal fortune.
He was charged to court in March and remanded in Kuje prison.
“Dodgy” bribe-taking cop
The Kuje attackers claimed Mr Kyari prosecuted them despite taking bribes from them, our sources said. One of the sources, a state investigator and intelligence officer, described Mr Kyari as a “dodgy criminal.”
Mr Kyari has not been convicted of any crime and has said he is innocent of the allegations for which he has been charged.
Quoting the inmates, our sources said Mr Kyari was “eliminating smaller (drug) dealers to clear the field for Afam Ukatu,” a suspected billionaire drug baron allegedly behind N3 billion Tramadol deal linked to Mr Kyari.
“Inmates claimed that upon arrest, Abba Kyari demanded bribes to kill the case, then still prosecuted them,” a Kuje prison source who accessed the testimonies of the aggrieved inmates, said.
The spokesperson for the Nigerian Correction Service, Francis Enobore, denied the attack on Mr Kyari. But PREMIUM TIMES confirmed the attack from officials with direct knowledge of it and the service’s internal documents.
According to our sources, Mr Kyari was rescued by officials and has since been kept in an isolated cell “under heavy protection where no one sees him for fear of attack or poisoning.”
To ‘buy’ his safety, Mr Kyari had to pay each of the aggrieved inmates N200,000 ‘in initial settlement fees’ and then ‘procured DSTV subscription for cells to buy loyalty and peace,’ one source said.
However, Mr Enobore, who speaks for the correctional service, said, “I am not aware Abba Kyari paid anybody to secure his safety in prison.”
Mr Kyari is alleged to have amassed wealth far in excess of his fair earnings by inverting his role as a law enforcement officer and involving in illicit activities. In April, NDLEA said they marked properties in Borno, Kano, Lagos, and Abuja ‘linked’ to the disgraced officer.
Still threatening to kill
Despite the ‘settlements’ the aggrieved inmates have continued to threaten Mr Kyari’s life, our sources said.
“Regardless of the level of protection, they vowed to get him,” a source said. “The inmates have given him an ultimatum to return all he extorted from them or be killed.”
“Relevant officials have assessed that he will be killed or badly injured if he continues to be remanded in Kuje.”
An official recommendation has therefore been made that Mr Kyari should be transferred out of Kuje to an SSS facility, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
The SSS spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, did not answer calls, nor did he reply to a text requesting he comment on this report.
Meanwhile, prison sources described Mr Kyari’s life in Kuje.
“So far, he has every relevant officer on his payroll. They do his bidding, he sees his wife, and he has access to mobile devices and marabouts,” one source said.