Nigeria suspends 'Hushpuppi-linked' police officer Abba Kyari

By Ishaq Khalid
BBC News, Abuja

Published
image source, Abba Kyari/Facebook
image captionDeputy police commissioner Abba Kyari says his "hands are clean"

Nigeria has suspended one of its most highly respected police officers after he was indicted in the US on money laundering charges.

Abba Kyari allegedly facilitated payments to police officers from Nigerian Instagram celebrity Ray Hushpuppi, who has pleaded guilty to money laundering in the US.

Mr Kyari has denied the allegations.

The allegations shocked many Nigerians as he was known as a "super cop" who went after criminals.

Court documents filed in California said the 37-year-old Hushpuppi's crimes cost victims almost $24m (£17m).

Hushpuppi, whose real name is Ramon Abbas, posed as real estate developer in Dubai and posted photos of his lavish lifestyle on Instagram, where he had 2.5m followers.

He was charged in the US following his extradition from Dubai last year.

Kristi Johnson, acting director of the FBI's Los Angeles office, said Hushpuppi was one of the "most high-profile money launderers in the world".

His "celebrity status and ability to make connections seeped into legitimate organisations and led to several spin-off schemes in the US and abroad", she said.

In a statement last week, US officials said that Hushpuppi had alleged in an affidavit that he got Mr Kyari to arrest a syndicate member with whom he had fallen out.

Mr Kyari allegedly sent Hushpuppi details of a bank account in which he could deposit payment for the arrest, the statement said.

Nigeria's Police Service Commission - which is in charge of disciplining officers - said Mr Kyari would remain suspended pending the outcome of investigations.

Mr Kyari described the allegations as ''false'' and said his "hands are clean''.

The allegations against Mr Kyari has caused huge controversy in Nigeria - some people believe them while others say he has been set up.

It is unclear whether he will be extradited to the US to stand trial.

Hushpuppi could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

In one scheme, he attempted to steal more than $1.1m from someone who wanted to fund a new children's school in Qatar, the documents said.

Court records unsealed last week said he pleaded guilty to this charge on 20 April.

image source, Hushpuppi/Instagram
image captionHushpuppi often showed his lavish lifestyle to his Istagram followers

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