The Abba Kyari scandal sheds light on Police-NDLEA rivalry.


By Ahmed Musa Husaini

You could sense the fierce inter-agency rivalry and distrust in the police statement about Abba Kyari’s arrest. What the police is simply telling us is that rogue NDLEA officials are also complicit in the alleged crime. Of course it takes two do the drug trafficking tango. Interestingly, the NDLEA was curiously silent about the complicity of its own officials.

As sister law enforcement agencies, you would expect the NDLEA to report Kyari to the police who would then launch an internal investigation. They could then hand over Kyari to the NDLEA based on their internal findings. Did the NDLEA report Kyari to the police? Yes. Did the police launch an internal investigation? Yes. What then happened afterwards?

Perhaps the NDLEA felt the NPF wasn’t forthcoming in investigating and handing over Kyari and his other police accomplices. Security agencies have the tendency to underreport internal scandals to avoid public embarrassment. It is only when there are media leaks (and public outcry) that they would rush to take action and appear responsible.

Now, the police, in their response, have thrown the gauntlet back at NDLEA. It is like saying we have now identified and handed over the rogue police officers involved in the case. We have our own investigations which also show deep complicity by your own officials, the onus is now on you to identify, publicize and arrest them, and explain to Nigerians the full extent of their complicity.

You can see that the police has nothing to lose. Kyari is already down. The FBI indictment has sealed his fate and he cannot remain a fugitive forever. Any new administration seeking to warm upto the US government would trade Kyari to demonstrate its strong law enforcement commitment. He’s already a reputational baggage that the police are willing to sacrifice.

One important issue for me is the realization that Kyari was still running (formally or informally) the IGP IRT team despite his suspension. It is either the police was aware or Kyari’s IRT boys are still loyal in spite of that. If the first scenario holds true, then it means there’s an attempted cover up at the very top. If the second scenario is valid, then Kyari’s IRT boys are – unsurprisingly – muddled in corruption as their own boss. To be honest, a serious police force would disband and investigate the entire IRT team after the Hushpuppy saga.

Now, where do we go from here. Considering its inter-agency nature, the Kyari issue is beyond the NPF or the NDLEA alone. The FG should seize the opportunity to undertake some far reaching reforms of the NPF and the NDLEA. Already the NDLEA appears to be doing well under Buba Marwa, but to assume a single head is capable of reforming the agency is to underestimate the extent to which corruption had eaten deeply into our law enforcement fabric.

What’s at stake is more than just some rogue police and NDLEA officials. What is at stake is Nigeria’s already battered image that’s up for another round of ‘dragging.’ Let’s hope President Buhari will get this right.

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