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$1.1M LOOT: I Never Demanded, Collected Bribe From Hushpuppi, Says Kyari

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 Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari on Thursday denied allegations he ever demanded or received a bribe from celebrity internet fraudster Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, alias Hushpuppi, from a $1.1million loot.

In a post on his Facebook page, Kyari said those celebrating the allegations against him would be disappointed.

Hushpuppi, who is known for his luxury lifestyle, was arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June 2020 alongside 11 of his associates over allegations bordering on hacking, impersonation, scamming, banking fraud, and identity theft

He recently pleaded guilty in the United States and, according to court documents, narrated how he bribed Kyari following the decorated policeman’s alleged role in arresting and jailing – at Hushpuppi’s request – his fraud rival Kelly Chibuzor Vincent after both were locked in a dispute.

According to the US Department of Justice, a criminal complaint initiated the prosecution of Hushpuppi in February as court documents ordered unsealed showed that Abbas, 37, pleaded guilty on April 20.

A version of Abbas’ plea agreement filed late Tuesday outlines his role in the school-finance scheme, as well as several other cyber and business email compromise schemes that cumulatively caused more than $24million in losses.

Officials said in court filings that Abbas disclosed during interrogation that he paid bribes to Kyari, to have one of his rivals arrested and jailed in Nigeria following a dispute over a $1.1million dupe of a Qatari businessperson.

Abbas had asked Kyari to arrest and jail Vincent after both were locked in a dispute presumably over how to share the $1.1million loot received from the Qatari businessperson.

Vincent subsequently contacted the victim and informed them that they were being scammed by a syndicate involving him and Abbas.

This elicited anger from Abbas, who contacted Kyari to arrest and jail his rival over the dispute.

Abbas said Kyari sent pictures of Vincent in jail and subsequently sent his bank account number to Abbas to which a wire transfer should be made having done a good job as sent by Abbas.

According to the affidavit, Kyari is “alleged to have arranged for Vincent to be arrested and jailed at Abbas’ behest, and then sent Abbas photographs of Vincent after his arrest.

“Kyari also allegedly sent Abbas bank account details for an account into which Abbas could deposit payment for Vincent’s arrest and imprisonment,” U.S. Justice department said in a statement.

After the $1.1 million fraud was successful, Abbas spent $230,000 on a watch and also bribed officials at St. Kitts and Nevis for his citizenship of that island country

“Approximately $230,000 of the stolen funds allegedly were used to purchase a Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which was hand delivered to Abbas in Dubai and subsequently appeared in Hushpuppi’s social media posts.

“Other illicit proceeds from the scheme were allegedly converted into cashier’s checks, including $50,000 in checks that were used by Abbas and a co-conspirator to fraudulently acquire a St. Christopher and Nevis citizenship, as well as a passport for Abbas obtained by creating a false marriage certificate and then bribing a government official in St. Kitts,” officials said.

But responding to the allegations in a Facebook post Thursday morning, Kyari dissociated himself from any such corrupt practice.

Kyari said: “Friends: Abbas who we later came to know as Hushpuppi called our office about two years ago that somebody in Nigeria seriously threatened to kill his family here in Nigeria and he sent the person’s Phone number and pleaded we take action before the Person attacks his family.

“We traced and arrested the suspect and after investigations we discovered there wasn’t an actual threat to anyone’s life and they are longtime friends who have money issues between them hence we released the suspect on bail to go and he was not taken to any jail.

“Nobody demanded for a kobo from Abbas Hushpuppi. Our focus was to save people’s lives that were purported to have been threatened.

“Later, he saw some of my native clothes and caps on my social media page and he said he likes them and he was connected to the person selling the clothes and he sent about N300k directly to the person’s account. The Native Clothes and Caps (5 sets) were brought to our office and he sent somebody to collect them in our office.

“Nobody demanded any money from Abbas Hushpuppi and nobody collected any money from him. We responded to a distress call he made on threat to his family and released the suspect when we discovered there was no life threat from the suspect. This is the true story. Vincent is alive, he can be contacted.”

The police chief said his hands were clean

Kyari added: “Our record of service for two decades is open for everybody to see. They will continue seeing us serving our father land and we will continue responding to ALL distress calls from ALL Nigerians provided they are life threatening.

“For good Nigerians who appreciate our service please don’t worry as our hands are clean and they should please not respond to those celebrating and creating many false narratives without any Evidence. We are used to such types of people and false newsmakers and distributors.

“Thank you all and GOD bless Nigeria.”

Abbas faces up to 20 years in jail, following his guilty plea

He will be sentenced in the coming weeks and will forfeit some of his assets and his rights to appeal while also paying restitution to victims of his years-long fraud.

The Nation

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GOOD LEADERS AREN’T APPRECIATED UNTIL THEY LEAVE OFFICE, OSHIOMHOLE EULOGISES JONATHAN

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Former President, Goodluck Jonathan and the former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole

The former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, has said that Nigerians don’t appreciate good leaders until they leave office, noting that former President Goodluck Jonathan left enviable legacies behind.

The ex-national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) confessed that he fought former President Jonathan out of office due to their differences in political interests.

He stated this at the one-year memorial lecture in honour of late Captain Hosa Okunbo, in Abuja today.

Oshiomhole said: “You (Jonathan) left legacies even though that I had cause to fight because it is politics. The legacy you have left, there is no successor who can afford to do less.

“But the logic of multi-party democracy is that even an angel can be defeated. You have set a standard that none of your successors can afford to go below.

“Part of your (Jonathan) legacies was when you launched the almajiri school and your thought was that no Nigerian child should be left on the street and also appropriated special funds.

“These ideas are not new but what we lack is the will to transform it to practice. We never know who are our friends until when we are no more.

“No one is appreciated until he or she leaves office,” he said.

Other speakers at the event were Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwase III decried the glorification of stomach infrastructure in Nigeria’s political culture, among others.

They described the late Captain Hosa Okunbo as a man with a large heart, the spirit of philanthropy and ardent love for the needy.

According to them, one of his legacies that will continue to endure is that he nurtured and mentored many to become responsible members of the society.

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RISING COST OF LIVING: SOUTHERN, NORTHERN, M-BELT ELDERS RAISE THE ALARM

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President Muhammadu Buhari

Elders and leaders of the various socio-cultural organisations across the country have raised the alarm that Nigeria seems to be on a precipice, warning that unless the challenges are tackled immediately, the country might witness an economic disaster pretty soon.

Leaders of different groups from the North, South and Middle Belt, including Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), have warned President Muhammadu Buhari and other officials of the administration to address the current challenges head-on and save the country from collapse.

In the past few weeks, the nation has been bedevilled by a number of economic adversities beyond the security challenges afflicting virtually all parts of the country. The national currency, the naira, has suffered a hefty fall, while the nation’s foreign reserves have massively depleted. The debt figures have continued to soar. The aviation sector has continued to record assorted challenges, leading to cancellation and rescheduling of flights. A number of domestic airlines have announced the suspension of their operations. The high cost of diesel has led to some companies closing down and throwing workers into the labour market. The soaring prices of foodstuff have led to many families going to bed with empty stomachs.

In exclusive interviews with Saturday Sun, many of the socio-cultural organisations cried out that the country is on the precipice, and travelling on the road to a failed state.

Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr Jare Ajayi, said the situations that unfolded in Nigeria in the past few weeks have further confirmed that those piloting the affairs of Nigeria currently are far from the realities that Nigerians are dealing with on an hourly basis. “It is therefore not surprising that steps being taken do not touch the problems confronting us as a nation, and that is why the country is grinding to a halt.”

Acting spokesman for the ACF, Shuaibu Lili, said the situation in Nigeria is really unfortunate. Hear him: “Let me talk on behalf of the Northern Region, which is the food basket of the nation. How do you expect a farmer who bought a bag of fertilizer for N5, 900 last year to buy it for N22, 000 this year? So, what can he produce? And even if he produced, where are the factories? The factories are mainly in the South, in places like Agbara in Ogun State. What will you give them to manufacture. No, no, the problem is too much for Nigerians. To be precise, mayhem may soon take place in this country.”

Publicity Secretary of the Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonnaya, pointed that what is happening are the consequences of nepotism. His words: “Any place where appointment is made based on ethnicity and religion as against competence, it is always like this. What keeps these advanced countries going is that they look at merit, the accomplishment of an individual before they appoint a person into a position of authority.

“Take the service chiefs as example. It is difficult to contain the level of insecurity in this country because most of them don’t have the pedigree in the area of security; almost all of them come from the same ethnic groups and religion. There is no way under this kind of arrangement that Nigeria will not come to a halt. Activities of government that are supposed to be moving clockwise are now moving anti clockwise.”

Also speaking, Publicity Secretary of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), Abdul-Azeez Suleiman noted: “We have said it earlier that we are not in a failing state, but in a failed state. A state that has lost control of its economy, lost control of its land borders, highways, seaways and airports; it is certainly a failed state. You can see these since the coming to power of Buhari and these things have escalated to the level where people find it hard to eke out a living.

President of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Prof Benjamin Okada lamented: “If you do a comparison between 2015 on the status of the Nigerian economy and what we have gone through in the last seven years, you know that we are on the fast lane of approaching not just the precipice of a failure, but of disintegration. It is not just the economy, though the economy is the foundation upon which other infrastructure, politics, social issues, religion, etc. rest. The economy is on a decline in a dastardly manner; that is why you see today the naira is climbing to as much as N710 to a dollar, which was about N190 in 2015. The prices of foodstuffs have quadrupled, and life in Nigeria is becoming meaningless. It is not a surprise that the Senate itself is contemplating the process of impeachment of Mr President. The universities teachers are on strike over poor infrastructure in the institutions of learning and the government says it doesn’t have money to do anything, but it is going ahead to take toxic loans; loans that impact only the pockets of the few. “The indices of a failed state are so demonstrated. If radical steps are not taken, in the nearest future, it will very difficult even to predict if there will be election in 2023.” The National President of Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu said Nigeria was grinding to a halt, even as he expressed fear that things could get worse with Boko Haram and other insurgents getting bolder.

“This government has failed economically and failed in the security sector. Without security, there can never be economic development.

“So far, there is total collapse of governance and we are running as if it is not a country at all; we are running on auto pilot.  Things have to change. Remember, all the short periods when the president left this country because of ill health, anytime the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo took over for that short period, there was a marked difference because he did the right thing when needed,” Pogu stated.

PANDEF President, Sen. Emmanuel Ibok Essien, noted that places like Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Syria, Afghanistan and many others started with insecurity, inflation and then hyperinflation and at the end of the day, they became failed states.

“I pray that Nigeria will not travel that road. How can the dollar rise to N710 in the parallel market? That is unimaginable. How can petrol go up to N200 per litre when we are producing the oil? As there is no road for anybody to travel, people resorted to air travel and now airlines are closing down. It means that people will not be able to move around in the country.

“The present government is driving this country into a failed stated. Sometimes they think that it is the ordinary people that would be affected by the things going on in the country. But what is going on may wipe out even the elite.”

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AUTHOR SALMAN RUSHDIE ON VENTILATOR AFTER ATTACK IN NEW YORK

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Author Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, US [Joshua Goodman/AP Photo]

Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and abdomen as he was being introduced to the audience at a literary event.

Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born British author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, has been stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in southwestern New York state.

Police confirmed Rushdie was stabbed “at least once in the neck, and at least once in the abdomen” on Friday after an assailant rushed to the stage and lunged at the 75-year-old writer just as he was being introduced to the audience.

After being airlifted to hospital where he spent hours in surgery, Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak on Friday evening.

“The news is not good,” Andrew Wylie, his book agent, wrote in an email to the Reuters news agency. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Police identified the suspect as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from New Jersey.

Major Eugene Staniszewski of New York state police told reporters on Friday afternoon that officials do not have “any indication of a motive” at this “very early” stage of the investigation. They said they believed that Matar was acting alone.

Portrait of writer Salman Rushdie
Rushdie won the Booker Prize for his 1981 novel Midnight’s Children, but became widely known after the publication of The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims consider blasphemous [File: Rogelio V Solis/AP Photo]

Stacey Schlosser, who witnessed the attack, told The Associated Press news agency that Rushdie was stabbed six to eight times before the attacker was restrained.

“Nobody knew what to do. Nobody knew how to react. I mean, there were tons of people that rushed the stage,” Schlosser said.

“A man jumped up on the stage from I don’t know where and started what looked like beating him on the chest, repeated fist strokes into his chest and neck,” said Bradley Fisher, who was in the audience. “People were screaming and crying out and gasping.”

Stunned attendees helped pull the man off Rushdie, who had fallen to the floor. A New York state police trooper providing security at the event arrested the attacker, while a doctor in the audience helped look after Rushdie until emergency services arrived.

Life in hiding

Rushdie’s book, The Satanic Verses, has been banned in Iran and some other countries, as many Muslims consider it to be blasphemous. In 1989, Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an edict calling for Rushdie’s death.

Iran’s government has since distanced itself from the decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered.

“The fatwa belongs to the Ayatollah and cannot be rescinded by the state according to Iranian practice,” Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told Al Jazeera. “They [Iran] took this distance from it as part of a pre-condition for the Iranians and the UK to restore diplomatic relations. Ever since, the threat picture against Salman Rushdie seems to have reduced significantly, but clearly not enough.”

In 2012, a semi-official Iranian religious foundation had increased the amount on offer for the writer’s killing from $2.8m to $3.3m.

Rushdie dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was “no evidence” of people being interested in the money and published a memoir, Joseph Anton, about his ordeal. The title came from the pseudonym Rushdie had used while in hiding.

Rushdie rose to prominence in 1981 when his second novel Midnight’s Children, won the Booker Prize, but it was with the publication of The Satanic Verses that his name became known around the world.

Author Salman Rushdie is transported to a helicopter after he was stabbed
Rushdie is transported to a helicopter after he was stabbed on stage at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York [Twitter@HoratioGates3 /via Reuters]

The Chautauqua Institution, about 90km (55 miles) southwest of Buffalo in a rural corner of New York, is known for its summertime lecture series.

Rushdie, who started out in advertising, has published more than a dozen books and spoken at Chautauqua before. He had been scheduled to talk about the United States giving asylum to artists in exile and “as a home for freedom of creative expression”, according to the institution’s website. His new novel Victory City is due to be published in February.

The author, who currently lives in the US, had lived under police protection because of threats to his life. The United Kingdom awarded him a knighthood in 2007, which sparked protest in several countries in the Muslim world.

Writers, advocacy groups and politicians in the US and Europe condemned Friday’s attack and defended freedom of speech.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Rushdie was stabbed “while exercising a right we should never cease to defend”.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “For 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism. He has just been the victim of a cowardly attack by the forces of hatred and barbarism. His fight is our fight; it is universal.”

Pen America, a writers’ association that promotes freedom of expression, which Rushdie once led, described the assault as a “premeditated attack”.

“PEN America is reeling from shock and horror at word of a brutal, premeditated attack on our former President and stalwart ally, Salman Rushdie, who was reportedly stabbed multiple times while on stage speaking at the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York,” the group’s CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.

“We can think of no comparable incident of a public violent attack on a literary writer on American soil.”

Law enforcement officers detain Hadi Matar, 24 and take him to a police car outside the Chautauqua Institution
Law enforcement officers take suspect Hadi Matar, 24, to a police car after the attack on Rushdie. Matar was tackled by members of the audience who rushed onto the stage [Charles Fox via AP Photo]

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who represents New York, called the assault on Rushdie an “appalling” attack on “freedom of speech and thought”.

“I hope Mr. Rushdie quickly and fully recovers and the perpetrator experiences full accountability and justice,” Schumer wrote on Twitter.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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