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Ramoni Igbalode Abbas who is globally known as Ray Hushpuppi is now on a new journey; from a fast-paced life of opulence and luxurious lifestyle, down to his journey to years of proper reformation behind US bars. The 38-year-old Nigerian who hitherto was top shot who loved to wrap his ego in the daily oxygen of Social Media would now be out of circulation for a long time, in the interest of Nigerians and the battered Nigerian image, it is imperative that this serves as a deal-breaker; it would be merrier if the ‘Gucci’ ambassador sweeps off more ‘strong legs’, Abba Kyari is definitely not enough.
Ever since last year’s arrest of the evil genius (Hushpippi) who loved to reap where he did not sow, who at that time, was said to have been on the radar of both the FBI and United Arab Emirate elite e-Police, many Nigerians who were initially blown away by the stupendous wealth of the fraudster are now shocked to the new realities. Most of his 2.5 million followers on social media platforms – Instagram was surely not aware that the ‘big boy’ who was bandying himself as a ‘real estate developer’ and ‘Social Media influencer’ was nothing but a criminal. The forensic calculation of his ill-gotten wealth put the whole heist at nothing less than 1.6 billion UAE’s Dirhams which equals £353,031, 157.60 in pounds. It was also gathered that he was able to defraud 1,926,400 victims across Europe, US, and Nigeria.
According to reports which the media became privy to at that time, Hushpuppi was allegedly arrested for diverting funds totaling $35million earmarked for Covid-19 test kits meant for Native American patients into his insatiably greedy pockets. Through a scheme which is now regarded as Business Email Compromise (BEC). Hushpupi simply sent out identical emails to legitimate email addresses and through that digital interception, would then start monetary diversion into his account. Not just that, he also cloned bigger businesses’ websites and inflicts horrendous financial ruin on most of them. By parlaying financial information into mind-boggling riches he was sending many unsuspecting people, companies, and entities into avoidable death, depression, and anguish.
Back home in Nigeria, bad governance, societal negligence, and the gradual but painful death of family values had already created an atmosphere that made Cybercrime and Internet fraud appear more like a carrier than an ill. Musicians sing to glorify it, movie producers produce movies encouraging it, comedians roll out skits to amplify it and even fraudulent pastors justify it. Overall, Social Media have wreaked the biggest havoc by pushing everyone to the limits just to ‘belong’. With this proponent of a decaying society in the background, it was easy to understand why Huspuppi and his gang were able to thrive.
Following his arrest, allegations and revelations began to fill the air of the public spaces and many people who had thinking caps began to add one and two together to posit that such a high-powered syndicate cannot function without the active connivance with State and non-State actors. Just like the widely held sentiment that a bank robbery operation cannot be smoothly carried out without insiders, it was easy to deduce that Huspuppi couldn’t have operated without powerful backers.
Just as these thoughts were being processed, the FBI came to the rescue by dropping a 69-page report that indicted Nigeria super crime buster and Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP Abba Alhaji Kyari, and 5 others in a fraudulent scheme which was intended to defraud a man of $1.1 million under the guise of opening a school for children in Qatar. The friendship between the celebrated super cop and the Gucci-loving ‘financial bandit’ dates back to 2019, when Kyari travelled to Dubai on a personal trip. On that trip, he met Hushpuppi. Huspuppi gave him milk in a car and a chauffeur. Next Abba Kayri, shared personal pictures and professional attainments with Hushpuppi, and Hushpuppi thanked God for bringing Abba his way. That was the beginning of the journey that could potentially cost Kyari his job and freedom too.
A quick review of this fact-laden report revealed that Hushpupi sent details of one of the co-accused which was given as Vincent Chibuzor to Kyari who subsequently picked and detained him under very inhumane conditions for one month to ensure he was technically out of the picture while Hushpuppi closed the fraud deal. The records further revealed that Kyari had sent photographs of Vincent in a police cell to Hushpuppi to confirm his identity and that Vincent was only released after Hushpuppi took pity on him and asked Kyari to set him free. For a job well done, Hushpuppi then sent some money to Kyari through a third-party account in three installments. When the dirty details of these shenanigans hit the public, Kyari’s most potent defence was that he is completely innocent and that the only connection between him and Hushpuppi is that he helped him to sew some native wears. How on earth did a cop in charge of Nigeria’s Police Intelligence Response Unit become a tailor and fashion consultant to a man of international security interest, who by the way, flaunted obscene wealth on Social Media pages? Only in Nigeria.
Now it is important to state that this particular scam was not the only record the ever meticulous Federal Bureau of Investigation has been able to dig out. By every calculation, the $1.1m scam was probably one of the smallest heists perpetrated by these bunch of heartless criminals who have supervised the death of humanity in them. In clearer terms, more are still coming. The unsealed documents and information are only a tip of the iceberg.
Yes, it is true that heavy maggots may have been unearthed from Hushpuppi’s crime laden devices might have catalysed Kyari recent indictment, it is only a matter of time before the puppy who now sings like a canary while rolling on the floor for the FBI, hoping for leniency in a plea bargain starts spilling very smelly beans.
Hushpuppi couldn’t have pulled those heavy scams without other highly placed ‘Kyaris’ in Nigeria. The lovable rogue from Kwara who succeeded in cultivating a niche for audacity, panache, class, and high taste for the good life didn’t attain those criminally lofty heights without riding on the mighty wings of influential personalities both in and outside Nigeria. For him to be able to possess defining powers strong enough to make an errand boy out of Kyari who was the head of IRT which stands for Intelligence Response Team, (an oxymoron used to cover the false truth about law enforcement in Nigeria) then it means he had bosses who are really strong and influential. The celebrity cop cannot be that answerable to a fraudster on the basis of a sneaky friendship. Common sense.
For Hushpuppi who is now in the big safe net, it would pay him more now to spill the beans than stay quiet. His country’s already battered image is on the line and he could help her bolster it.
Nigeria’s crime fighters lack FBI level of integrity, and no one would need a soothsayer to believe that Nigeria is a vast crime scene. The overrated puppy who has now been hushed can speak up this last time and speak with clarity. Haven pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in money laundering, Kyari now faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in a federal prison in the United States, however, he could plead for leniency by roping in more people in a plea bargain. This move would offer him the easiest route to freedom and a well-orchestrated reformation.
Finally, for Nigeria and her present authorities, it is important to remind them that the FBI is not the investigative arm of some Banana Republic that can be intimidated or banned like Twitter. Not cooperating with the US could land the country into a messier problem and for a country that always has her worn-out plates in hand begging for loans, aids, and even weapons in the West, it can only get worse.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK