The altercations between the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPC) on the indictment of the erstwhile Commander of the defunct Intelligence Response Team (IRT) at the Force Headquarters, Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), in a drug deal, have worsened.
The agency said it has no reason to shield anyone who may be indicted in the ongoing investigation on a 25-kilogramme (kg) cocaine deal “involving a gang headed by DCP Abba Kyari”.
Kyari is currently in NDLEA’s custody alongside four other senior police officers.
The Director of Media and Advocacy at the NDLEA Headquarters in Abuja, Femi Babafemi, assured all yesterday that the agency remained committed to evidence-based investigation and that its resolve cannot be weakened by any misrepresentation of facts.
The NDLEA’s response followed speculations that it might be trying to shield its operatives involved in the case.
In a statement on February 14, 2022, Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), had said police investigation also established that the international narcotics cartel involved in the case have strong ties with some officers of the NDLEA at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu.
The statement alleged that the agency’s officers were on the payroll of the cartel.
Adejobi also said two drug couriers arrested by the police confirmed that the modus operandi was that the transnational drug barons would conspire with the NDLEA officers on duty and send them their pre-boarding photographs for identification, seamless clearance, and unhindered passage out of the airport with the narcotics being trafficked.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), according to Adejobi, had formally requested that the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NDLEA should ensure the identification, arrest and investigation of its officers who have also been found to be colluding with the international drug cartel involved in this case towards advancing the anti-narcotics agenda of the Federal Government.
Responding to the police directive, Bababfemi, in a statement, said the agency needed to correct some inaccuracies in the information in the public space that NDLEA officers at the Enugu airport received from the cartel details about the mule coming from Addis Ababa.
He said the agency would quote from the transcript of Abba Kyari’s recorded conversation with its undercover officer and a portion of ASP James Bawa’s statement to the police, as documented in the police investigation report, a copy of which was made available to the agency.
Bawa is one of the senior police officers who was arrested and handed over to the NDLEA along with Kyari and three others over the alleged drug deal.
The NDLEA spokesman said the recording established the fact that it was “Abba Kyari’s team that was contacted by the cartel and, without doubt, the records clearly show how their ring works”.
Also, NDLEA’s Chairman/Chief Executive, Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.), has said the arrest of Kyari is a clear message of the agency’s commitment in the fight against drug abuse.
Marwa spoke yesterday at a sensitisation training on Drugs and Drug Prevention, Treatment and Care (DPTC) organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for NLDEA personnel and select journalists in Abuja.
Marwa said those given the responsibility to fight crime, which includes the matter of drugs, cannot themselves be proponents of the job.
Also, UNODC’s Country Representative Oliver Stolpe said the drug use epidemic affects around 40 million Nigerians, while around 3 million are affected with drug use disorders.
Also, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has accused police authorities of treating Kyari’s case with levity.
The lawyer expressed the fear that the suspended officer may soon be reabsorbed into the force.
The handling of Kyari’s extradition request by the United States of America (U.S.A), he said, showed that the case might be swept under the carpet, despite a fresh indictment linking the officer with an international drug cartel.
“For the event that happened on Monday through the NDLEA, I am just sure that one day we will just wake up and see that Mr. Kyari would have been reabsorbed into the Nigerian Police Force,” he said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily yesterday.
He added: “With all due respect, I think that was what Mr. IGP was working towards because if you look at the events, it would seem that the super cop was in the good books of those in power.”