Nigeria's 'supercop' Abba Kyari pleads not guilty on drug charges

2 months ago 3134

A high-profile Nigerian police commander once dubbed the country's "super cop" pleaded not guilty to drug smuggling charges on Monday, a month after he was arrested in a spectacular fall from grace.

National deputy police commissioner Abba Kyari was already suspended after he was implicated in the case of Nigerian social media influencer Ramon Abbas, known as Hushpuppi, who pleaded guilty to money laundering and other crimes in the United States.

Kyari, who became famous for exposing a string of high-profile crimes in Nigeria and once led an anti-kidnap squad featured in a documentary, has denied charges linked to that case.

In the separate narcotics probe, he and six others face eight charges, including trafficking cocaine, after investigators said he was caught on camera trying to bribe a drug enforcement officer over a cocaine deal.

The judge adjourned the case until March 14 to consider bail applications. Proceedings continue on March 28 to review the case.

Kyari was ordered to remain in custody.

"My client did not plead guilty and as such, all I’m after now is securing the freedom of them via an application for bail," Mahmoud Magaji, his attorney, told reporters.

Two of the defendants pleaded guilty.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) declared Kyari wanted for complicity in a 25-kilogramme (55-pound) cocaine deal. It said he and other officers were arrested for trafficking involving a drug cartel.

Some NDLEA officers were found to be "on the payroll" of the cartel Kyari was working for, according to police.

The agency said Kyari tried to compromise an NDLEA officer in January by asking him to hide part of the cocaine haul that was seized from some suspects.

It said Kyari was caught on camera handing over $61,400 (54,100 euros) in cash to its operative.

The NDLEA had accused Kyari of being "a member of a drug cartel that operates the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria illicit drug pipeline".

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