Cocaine Trafficking! Abba Kyari Faces Life Imprisonment
Embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari, may spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted of alleged drug offences, POLITICS NIGERIA‘s review of the law shows.
Kyari, who headed the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Police, was in 2021 suspended after his alleged involvement in the swindling of a Qatari businessman and ties with Ramon Abass (Hushpuppi), a Nigerian social media celebrity standing trial for a multi-million dollar Internet fraud in the U.S.
On Monday, the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) sent shockwaves around the country when it fingered Kyari in a trans-border cocaine trafficking ring.
The embattled policeman was caught negotiating a deal with an NDLEA officer to compromise 25 kilograms of Cocaine initially intercepted from members of a Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria drug ring.
With the approval of the agency, the NDLEA officer played along with Kyari and this led to a sting operation that produced multimedia evidence now being used to prosecute the senior police officer.
Kyari has since been arrested and remanded in the custody of the agency while investigations continue.
Life in Prison
Nigerians have urged the government to prosecute Kyari to serve as a deterrent to other security agents aiding and abetting a crime. If Kyari’s case is followed to the latter and he is convicted, the one-time decorated police officer risks spending the rest of his life in Prison.
According to Section 11 of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act of 1989, importation or sale of cocaine, heroine, or similar drugs, is punishable by life imprisonment.
“Any person who, without lawful authority-(a) imports, manufactures, produces, processes, plants or grows the drugs popularly known as cocaine, LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life; or (b) exports, transports or otherwise traffics in the drugs popularly known as cocaine, LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life; (c) sells, buys, exposes or offers for sale or otherwise deals in or with the drugs popularly known as cocaine, LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life…”
The embattled cop, may, however, will get a lesser punishment if charged as a conspirator.
The NDLEA act stipulates a minimum of fifteen years and a maximum of 25 years jail term for conspiracy to commit the crime.
“Any person who- (a) incites, promises or induces any other person by any means whatsoever to commit any of the offences referred to in this Act, or (b) conspires with, aids abets, counsels, attempts to commit or is an accessory to any act or offence referred to in this Act, shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than fifteen years and not exceeding 25 years,” the law states.
Implication on Extradition
Festus Ogun, a Lagos-based lawyer, has said Kyari’s fresh troubles may hinder his extradition to the United State where his co-conspirators are standing trial.
Ogun cited Section 3(6) of the Extradition Act of 1966 which states that a fugitive criminal facing trial or serving a jail term shall not be surrendered for extradition.
“(a) (any fugitive) who has been charged with an offence under the law of Nigeria or any part thereof, not being the offence for which his surrender is sought; or (b) who is serving a sentence imposed in respect of any such offence by a court in Nigeria, shall NOT be surrendered until such time as he has been discharged whether by acquittal: or on the expiration of his sentence or otherwise,” the law says.
“The simple interpretation of the above provision of the law in respect to this case is that any extradition application made against Abba Kyari shall be rejected if the NDLEA decides to charge him with an offence, under Nigerian law, other than the offence for which his surrender is sought in the US i.e. the crime he allegedly committed in connection with Hushpuppi,” said the lawyer.
He further argued that while it is desirable that the NDLEA gets to the root of this drug cartel matter involving Abba Kyari by ensuring that those found wanting after thorough investigation are charged before a competent court of record, such an action will only succeed in hindering and frustrating his (Kyari’s) extradition.
“The law remains that no individual can be successfully extradited from Nigeria to any other country if a criminal proceeding, different from the fugitive’s extradition’s crime, is pending in a Nigerian court.”
“In any case, the Honourable Attorney-General can play a huge role in ensuring that substantial justice is done in both matters. Even where the NDLEA goes ahead to prosecute Kyari for his drug-related crimes, the Attorney-General has enormous powers under Section 174(1)(c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to discontinue the criminal proceeding, at any stage before judgement, to give way for his extradition proceedings.”, he stated.