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Abba Kyari: Nigerian ‘super cop’ arrested in drug cartel case

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A highly decorated police officer in Nigeria has been arrested following accusations he belongs to an international drugs cartel, police say.

Abba Kyari, already suspended for allegedly helping self-avowed fraudster Hushpuppi to launder his money in the US, is now accused in a cocaine plot.

Officials say Mr Kyari asked a colleague to help him siphon off part of a cocaine haul.

They say he was caught on camera handing over $61,400 (£45,400) in cash.

He has not yet commented on the allegations.

Mr Kyari’s arrest came hours after Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) declared him a wanted man, accusing him of being “a member of a drug cartel that operates the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria illicit drug pipeline”.

He was arrested on Monday along with four other officers – Sunday Ubuah, Bawa James, Simon Agrigba and John Nuhu – following a “high-level discreet” investigation, a police statement said. It added that one other officer – John Umoru – remained “at large”.

As part of its investigations, Nigerian police also said a number of anti-drugs officers at the international airport of the south-eastern city of Enugu were found to be “on the payroll” of the same cartel Mr Kyari is accused of working for.

One-time ‘super cop’

Mr Kyari, 46, once had a reputation of being a “super cop” who investigated big criminal cases.

He received a presidential medal of courage from Mr Buhari in 2016 after his team rescued three kidnapped schoolgirls in Lagos.

He was also honoured by the Lagos state government, winning the top award for gallantry three years in a row between 2011 and 2013, and he was known for fraternising with politicians and celebrities.

But he was suspended from the force in August last year after the US instituted indictment proceedings against him, following allegations that he facilitated payments to Nigerian police personnel from Instagram celebrity Hushpuppi – whose real name is Ramon Abbas.

Hushpuppi – who had 2.4 million followers on Instagram – pleaded guilty to money laundering in the US after being extradited from Dubai last year.

The alleged plot

The NDLEA accused Mr Kyari of propositioning the unnamed police officer last month, by allegedly claiming that he and his team had intercepted and arrested traffickers entering Nigeria from Ethiopia with 25kg of cocaine.

The drug enforcement agency said it then gave the “green light” to its officer to play along, and alleged that Mr Kyari plotted to steal 15kg of the cocaine haul located in Enugu and leave behind a “dummy” weighing the same amount.

In the same statement published on Monday, the agency also accused Mr Kyari of having asked the undercover NDLEA officer “to persuade men of the FCT [Federal Capital Territory] Command to play along as well”.

The NDLEA alleges Mr Kyari was subsequently filmed handing over $61,400 – the promised proceeds from the sale of 5kg of cocaine – to the undercover officer whose car had been rigged with video and sound recorders.

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Answers demanded after Nigeria’s disappointing 2026 FIFA World Cup outing

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Nigeria’s sports ministry has demanded an explanation for the country’s poor 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, labelling it “unacceptable” after a 2-1 defeat by Benin left the Super Eagles winless from their opening four games.

Following draws with Lesotho, Zimbabwe and South Africa, Monday’s result means Nigeria sit fifth in Group C with three points from a possible 12.

Only the group winners are guaranteed a place at the World Cup finals, which will be jointly hosted by the USA, Canada, and Mexico.

“Our supporters are passionate and devoted,” senator John Owan Enoh, minister of sports development, said in a statement.

“They deserve an explanation for why our national team has not been performing to the expected standards since after the last Africa Cup of Nations.

“The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) must provide a comprehensive technical report explaining the reasons behind this poor showing and give cause why there mustn’t be consequences.

“The recent results are unacceptable.”

Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, losing on away goals to Ghana in the play-offs, but did reach the final of this year’s Nations Cup under former boss Jose Peseiro, losing to hosts Ivory Coast.

Finidi George was appointed as Peseiro’s replacement in April but failed to lift the team’s performances against South Africa and Benin.

The Super Eagles have failed to win any of their past seven World Cup qualifiers dating back to November 2021 – a time when Gernot Rohr, now coach of Benin, was in charge.

The game against Benin, which was played in neutral Ivory Coast, got off to an inauspicious start for Nigeria when the the wrong national anthem was played.

Two weeks ago, President Bola Tinubu made a controversial decision to revert to the nation’s former anthem, but organisers in Abidjan clearly missed the memo.

The NFF expressed its displeasure at the mistake and threatened not to take the field for the second period until the correct anthem was played.

Raphael Onyedika had put the Super Eagles ahead after 27 minutes but goals from Jodel Dossou and Steve Mounie gave Benin the advantage at the break.

Having returned to Nigeria on Tuesday, the team put out a statement on social media, admitting they were “unhappy about the way the two games panned out” and promising to “fight hard till the end” of the qualifying campaign.

One factor in the squad’s underperformance could be the absence of star striker Victor Osimhen, who has missed all four Group C games so far with injury.

Yet, even without the reigning African Footballer of the Year, the Nigeria squad boasts enough attacking talent to have found the net more than four times in as many outings.

African World Cup qualifiers are set to resume in March next year, with 2025 Nations Cup qualifiers scheduled to be held in September, October and November.

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Nigeria: Kano governor orders arrest of dethroned emir Bayero

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The Governor of Kano State, Abba Yusuf, has ordered the arrest of the deposed Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado-Bayero, who reportedly returned to Kano early Saturday.

Mr Ado-Bayero was dethroned alongside the emirs of Karaye, Rano Bichi and Gaya whose emirates have been scrapped.

The governor’s spokesperson, Sanusi Bature, said the deposed emir was smuggled back to Kano allegedly to cause mayhem as the reinstated Emir Lamido Sanusi retook the palace.

“The former Emir was smuggled into Kano city last night in an attempt to forcefully return to the palace two days after being deposed by the Governor.

“The new Emir, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, arrived at the (Emir’s) palace in the company of the Governor, the Deputy Governor, the Speaker of the State Assembly, and other top government functionaries at about 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, 25th May 2024.

“As the Chief Security Officer of the state, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf, has directed the Commissioner of Police to arrest the deposed Emir with immediate effect for disturbing public peace and attempting to destroy the relative peace the state enjoys.”

Mr Bayero, who was not in Kano at the time of his dethronement, was said to have arrived at Malam Aminu Kano International Airport Saturday morning where he observed the Muslim morning prayer amidst hundreds of sympathisers.

The sympathisers were singing that he remained the original emir of Kano as he committed no offence to warrant his removal.

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Nigerian officials probe plan to marry off scores of female orphans

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Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs says it is investigating a plan by a lawmaker in central Niger state to marry off some 100 female orphans of unknown ages later this month.

Speaker of the Niger State Assembly Abdulmalik Sarkin-Daji announced the mass wedding last week but called off the ceremony following widespread outrage.

Minister of Women Affairs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, speaking to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, condemned the plans.

Kennedy-Ohanenye said she had petitioned the police and filed a lawsuit to stop the marriages pending an investigation to ascertain the age of the orphans and whether they consented to the marriages.

“This is totally unacceptable by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and by the government” of Nigeria, she said.

Last week, Sarkin-Daji announced his support for the mass wedding of the orphans, whose relatives were killed during attacks by armed bandits. He said it was part of his support to his constituents following an appeal for wedding funding by local traditional and religious leaders.

The mass wedding had been scheduled for May 24.

“That support I intend to give for the marriage of those orphans, I’m withdrawing it,” he said. “The parents can have the support [money], if they wish, let them go ahead and marry them off. As it is right now, I’m not threatened by the action of the minister.”

Despite national laws prohibiting it, forced or arranged marriage is a common phenomenon in Nigeria, especially among rural communities in the predominantly Muslim north, where religious and cultural norms such as polygamy favor the practice.

Poor families often use forced marriage to ease financial pressure, and the European Union Agency for Asylum says girls who refuse could face repercussions such as neglect, ostracism, physical assault and rape.

Raquel Kasham Daniel escaped being married off as a teenager when her father died and now runs a nonprofit helping children, especially less-privileged girls, get a formal education for free.

She said the ability of women to avoid forced marriage in Nigeria depends on their income and education.

“I was 16 when I lost my dad and I was almost married off, but then I ran away from home. And that gave me the opportunity to complete my education, and now I have a better life,” Daniel said.

“So, the reason why I prioritize education is to make sure that other girls have access to quality schooling so that it will help them make informed decisions about their lives. Education not only increases our awareness as girls about our rights but also enhances our prospects for higher income earning,” she said.

Thirty percent of girls in Nigeria are married before they turn 18, according to Girls Not Brides, a global network of more than 1,400 civil society groups working to end child marriage.

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