Mike Ozekhome, a senior Nigerian lawyer based in Abuja, has said the offences levelled against disgraced police officer Abba Kyari by the United States may not necessarily be against Nigerian criminal statutes.
Mr Ozekhome, while appearing on Channels TV earlier, also said Mr Kyari should be treated with dignity because his might matter might be politically or religiously motivated.
“Abba Kyari is safe under Nigeria law,” Mr Ozekhome said. “He is entitled to his protection under the Constitution of Nigeria, particularly section 36, that presumes his innocence.”
It was unclear how Mr Ozekhome arrived at his suggestion. Nigeria has extant provisions against money laundering and wire fraud, which are some of the most common criminal charges amongst law enforcement authorities, including the police and anti-graft EFCC.
Mr Kyari has been indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. for his involvement in an international crime syndicate that defrauded a Qatari businessperson of $1.1 million. He has denied wrongdoing, claiming his relationship with the principal of the syndicate Ramon ‘Hushpuppi’ Abbas was only for a short period.
However, American prosecutors, said they established a strong link between Mr Kyari and Hushpuppi and filed two charges of wire fraud and money laundering against him. He was subsequently suspended from office and will now face extradition to the U.S.
The police chief, long celebrated as tough on crime and incorruptible, has received support from some corners, although he was more widely rebuked for his indictment.
Mr Ozekhome, weighing in on the matter on Tuesday, said Mr Kyari will continue to enjoy the protection of the Nigerian law unless otherwise decided by the attorney-general.