Since the report of suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari’s alleged involvement in a drug ring hit the airwaves on Monday, the question of whether he will be extradited to the United States of America to face justice for pending infractions has also resurfaced.
About nine months ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had declared Kyari wanted over his association with internet fraudster Ramon Abbass (aka Hushpuppi). Kyari was alleged to have (ab)used the instruments of the state entrusted to him by privately punishing Hushpuppi’s criminal associates. Kyari was suspended from duty and is being investigated by a panel set up by the Inspector General of Police. Up till last month, these issues were still pending.
As if those troubles were not enough, he has now been arrested for his activities in an international drug cartel.
If being caught red-handed is personified, it will be the sting operation that nailed Kyari to the cross of his own indiscretions. For a man on suspension to confidently negotiate a bribe for a drug ring shows both hubris and overconfidence in his limited abilities. Meanwhile, given that much of the case the FBI used to nail Kyari was extracted from his WhatsApp conversations with Hushpuppi, it is almost funny that he still used the same medium to communicate with the NDLEA officer that got him apprehended. For a supposed supercop, Kyari seems persistently incapable of introspection.
All the while his pending case with the FBI steamed, the spectre of his extradition loomed over him like a vindictive ghost. With his latest arrest, the question of whether he would be extradited has become even more topical.
It does not help that some cynics think the drug offence came up to create justifiable legal and administrative snafus that will ultimately prevent him from being sent to the USA. These pessimists reasoned that if he is retained within Nigeria, his case would quietly go away like another of the one million corruption allegations in the country. It is hard to blame these conspiracists for such conjectures. Living in a country like Nigeria forces you to be cynical, otherwise, you will end up the dupe of an intricately spun web of systematic corruption.
Underlying the desire to see Kyari parcelled out to the US to be tried is the lack—and the loss—of faith in Nigeria’s judicial systems. We have repeatedly seen instances whereby Nigerians ignore their local courts that have jurisdiction over issues and sue for justice in western countries. Those who want Kyari shipped out to the USA are doing the same and they are not merely being vengeful. They just believe that the US justice system will neutrally adjudicate as it is supposedly untainted by the factors of identity politics that overdetermined virtually every matter in Nigeria. They reasoned—and quite rightly too—that if Kyari were run through the Nigerian justice system, his trial would be a sham. He would further benefit from the institutionalised nepotism that promoted a mediocre cop like him into a national star in the first place. To them, justice is only attainable in the US courts where officials, unsullied by the politics of religion and ethnicity that bedevils Nigeria, would dispassionately administer justice.
While the assumption of the objectivity of the US court is not unfounded, pushing out Kyari to be tried through the US’s legal system is not the height of justice as those who insist he be handed over to the FBI construe. Whatever he took from Americans, or any other world nationals, through his growing list of alleged crimes, Kyari did far worse to his own country’s people. Yes, Nigerians have been far more wounded by Kyari’s abuse of institutional power and breach of public trust than anyone else.
We must recall that long before the FBI apprehended him in connection to Hushpuppi, Kyari had been serially accused of instances of power abuse ranging from extortion to inordinate arrests. He had outstanding petitions against him, and they had never been properly addressed. The preponderance of his debts to the society is thus owed to Nigerians and its settlement to them deserves to be prioritised. His trial is a moral resolution we cannot afford to outsource to another nation regardless of the viability of their legal system. Yes, the sight of Kyari in handcuffs and being shepherded into an aeroplane will be gratifying (and maybe even cathartic). However, that is not what will constitute “justice” in this case.
First, extraditing someone is not as simple as procuring their plane ticket. It typically entails a legal process that could get protracted and exhausting. An overfocus on sending a rogue police officer out of the country could also detract from the necessary moral reckonings Nigeria needs to urgently confront. Second, a zealous insistence on extradition might ultimately provide a leeway for the institutions that Kyari represented to reduce the issues at stake to one man’s malfeasance. Rather than tackle a dense network of corrupt bureaucrats and inter-agency scoundrels, they will package him as a scapegoat and deliver him to those who will take the mess off their hands.
It might be hard for some to believe, but it is easy enough for Kyari’s superiors to throw him to the wolves and be rid of the bad publicity he now personifies. It does not take that much to send off a single officer anywhere. They will even accompany him with grand speeches about how the system they run does not tolerate corruption and unhesitatingly deals with erring officers. The real challenge is whether the country’s security agencies are willing to challenge themselves to a thorough house cleaning. Justice, in this instance, will not be served by pretending that this is one rotten apple that fell off the tree and should be hauled out. It is about facing the fact that the entire vineyard suffers an infestation of worms.
You only need to look at how Kyari landed in his latest travails to see a system run by ethically soiled officers. From the NDLEA’s account of the sting operation that landed Kyari into soup, we saw how the man still confidently worked the beats from where he had been suspended. He still accessed the institutional resources that allowed him to interfere with the operations of government agencies. Also, the degree of confidence that pushed him to negotiate a bribe while being investigated could not have been a merely misplaced one. His impunity must have come from a certainty that his back was covered by people within the system who, due to their own involvement in the architecture of corruption, would hold him up even if he was exposed.
This man has escaped various oversight mechanisms all these years despite the petitions some people had written against him. Why else would the system have allowed him to get away with so many accusations of infractions over the years if not because he has powerful backers in high places? For Kyari to have boldly approached an NDLEA officer and vomited a scheme without first ascertaining if that one would be on board or not speaks to a larger culture of corruption that permeates those law enforcement agencies. His proposition to the NDLEA officer, who exposed him, could not have been a one-off event. These are rehearsed habits of corruption in official garb. Scratch off the surface of that man’s actions and you will find layers of systemic rot and institutionalised abuse of power.
Kyari’s messy scandals culminate the years of corruption in public agencies. Considering the extended network of corruption across government agencies, it now makes sense why they promoted him into a superstar. As long as he accumulated accolades, he was their useful tool to deflect justice and ethical reckonings. Now that his bag of sins is overflowing, he should also be that focal point for redressing all the injustices he perpetrated against Nigerians but overlooked over the years. When he has properly accounted for what he owes us, they can ship him elsewhere to answer for his other crimes too.
Source:- Punch Ng