Northern Nigerian Breaking News

Hushpuppi: US court fixes date for judgment

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The United States Attorney’s Office at the Central District of California says that Ramon Abbas, aka, Hushpuppi, will be sentenced on February 14, 2022.

The court’s Director of Media Relations, Thom Mrozek, said Hushpuppi has been scheduled for sentencing on Valentine’s Day, according to BBC Pidgin.

In a plea agreement document sighted by The PUNCH, Hushpuppi had pleaded guilty to various offences bordering on internet scam and money laundering, among others.

The document was signed by Hushpuppi; his lawyer, Loius Shapiro; Acting United States Attorney, Tracy Wilkison, amongst others.

It stated that Hushpuppi risks “20 years’ imprisonment; a 3-year period of supervised release; a fine of $500,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offence”.

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Also, the court had ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to arrest the suspended Head of the Intelligence Response Team, DCP Abba Kyari, for his alleged role in a $1m scam allegedly perpetrated by Hushpuppi and five others.

However, in December 2021, Mrozek declined comments on the warrant of arrest the court issued months earlier that the FBI should apprehend Kyari and other defendants in the case.

Mrozek, in an earlier email interview with our correspondent on December 13, 2021, had said the sentencing of Hushpuppi was still pending.

The Dubai Police in the United Arab Emirates had in June 2020 arrested Hushpuppi and his gang. They were later extradited to the US for prosecution by the FBI.

The FBI Special Agent, Andrew Innocenti, had alleged that Hushpuppi contracted the services of Kyari after a “co-conspirator,” Chibuzo Vincent, allegedly threatened to expose the alleged $1.1m fraud committed against a Qatari businessman.

Innocenti, who said he obtained voice calls and WhatsApp conversations between Kyari and Hushpuppi, had also alleged that the latter paid the police officer N8m or $20,600 for the arrest and detention of Vincent.

Kyari had taken to Facebook on July 29, 2021 to deny the allegations, but he later deleted the post after editing it about 12 times.

The IG had recommended the suspension of Kyari, which the PSC carried out on July 31, 2021.

The police boss had on August 2, 2021, constituted the Special Investigation Panel headed by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department, Joseph Egbunike, to probe the allegations.

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Egbunike on August 26, 2021 submitted the panel’s report, which he said “is an outcome of a painstaking, transparent and exhaustive investigative process.”

He revealed that the report contained the case file of the probe, evidence and findings as well as testimonies from Kyari and other persons and groups linked to the matter.

The Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, had on September 14, 2021, during a television interview said the findings and recommendations on Kyari had been submitted to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), for “legal opinion” and thereafter for presentation to President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the final decision would be taken by the PSC.

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But months later, the PSC spokesman, Ikechukwu Ani, told our correspondent that the commission had not received any disciplinary recommendations from the IG through the Force Disciplinary Committee almost four months after the Egbunike panel submitted its report to the police boss.

The recommendations of the FDC will inform the commission’s decision and also determine Kyari’s future in the force, but the matter is now inconclusive.

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