The Nigerian Police Service Commission has suspended a senior officer pending the outcome of an investigation into US charges against him for allegedly aiding an Instagram influencer’s scam to steal more than $1 million.
Abba Kyari, a deputy commissioner in the Nigeria Police Force and head of Nigeria’s Intelligence Response Team, which tracks suspected kidnappers and terrorists, was relieved of his duties, the commission said on its website.
The suspension will allow the probe to be conducted without interference, Inspector General of Police Usman Baba said in an emailed statement. A four-member special investigation panel comprising senior police officers has been set up to review allegations against Kyari by the US government, the statement said. The panel will also “obtain detailed representation of Kyari to all the allegations leveled against him, conduct further investigations as it deems fit, and submit recommendations to guide further actions by the force leadership on the matter,” according to the statement. A grand jury indicted Kyari and five others on April 29 for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, according to court filings. US prosecutors accused Kyari of imprisoning one of the charged individuals to prevent him from interfering in a then-ongoing fraud at the request of Instagram influencer Ramon Abbas. Kyari, 46 has denied the accusations.
The spotlight on Kyari comes at a time when disorder and insecurity are on the rise in Nigeria as the state struggles to contain an extremist insurgency, mass kidnappings, intercommunal violence and separatist movements.