Like the Holy Trinity, the three persons that Nigerians will be grateful to for bringing out the star cop, Abba Kyari, are retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Umar Abubakar Manko, former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase, and the incumbent IGP, Ibrahim Idris.
AIG Manko was actually the man who saw “tomorrow” and brought out a star like Kyari. Police officers and journalists covering the police beat are still pondering how Manko was able to pick a quiet, meek and fragile-looking Kyari, who was the second-in-command in charge of the Lagos State Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Manko was then the Commissioner of Police (CP) in charge of the Lagos State Police Command.
Back then, many officers slammed Manko, saying that he needed a fierce and rugged police officer that would be able to police the state. But Manko, in picking Kyari out of the crowd, insisted that “I see something you people don’t in the eyes of Kyari; he will do the job perfectly.”
A few weeks after Kyari resumed duty as the officer in charge of SARS, he shook the command by re-organizing the squad and introduced lectures on cutting-edge technology. It was strange how the ever-smiling police officer started using technology in tracking criminals.
He spearheaded the operation that led to the arrest of the kidnappers of Kehinde Bemigbeton, chairman of Ejigbo Local Government Area, Lagos State, a few years ago. The arrest is now history.
Shortly after he became IGP in 2015, Arase felt Kyari’s intelligence should be applied to issues that were bigger than the cases in just one state. The IGP elevated him to Abuja and expanded his scope to cover the entire federation. The Lagos State government and other stakeholders, especially the business class, were not happy with Arase’s decision to ‘poach’ their super cop, as they were enjoying the security network put in place by Kyari.
Well, like Manko, who saw something special in Kyari, Arase behaved like the weather that does not fear criticism. He told the government and people of Lagos State that, “Kyari is a police officer who is serving the entire federation and must be moved, as he has a higher assignment to do.”
The IGP took him to Abuja and created the IGP Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and made Kyari the officer in charge of the team, and the rest is now history.
Offa bank robbery suspects.
Offa bank robbery suspects.
Another person who should get commendations is IGP Idris; he did not say, like many in his position would have done, “Let me remove Kyari, for he is Arase’s boy or Manko’s boy.” Rather, he maintained the structure he met on the ground, the IRT, and equipped it more; and soon the IRT became a more formidable tool to track criminals and crack seemingly impossible cases.
Without Manko, Arase, and Idris, Kyari might have been confined to a divisional police officer in one obscure place, wasting his talent. Today, he is the face of the Nigerian Police Force and the youngest Deputy Commissioner of Police in Africa
Kyari was born in 1975 in Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State. He attended primary and secondary school in Maiduguri, Borno State. He had very humble beginnings, as he did many menial jobs, including operating a commercial motorcycle, to see himself through school. He later studied Geography in the University of Maiduguri and graduated in 1997. After his mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme in Akwa Ibom State in 1998, he joined the Nigeria Police Force as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in 2000.
After his stint at Police Academy, Wudil, Kano State, in 2002, he was posted to Adamawa State, where he served in Song, Girel, and Numan, making remarkable impacts on crime detection and prevention.
Kyari turned the state upside down and shook the underworld with the arrest of the dreaded armed robber “Ndegi,” or Spirit, whose gang held Adamawa State by the jugular for several years. He served for a while in the Police Mobile Force, before he was transferred to the Lagos State Police Command, where he became the second in command of the SARS, until the coming of the “Lion in the jungle,” Manko, who reorganised SARS and picked Kyari as the officer to head the squad.
Kyari, a Superintendent of Police at that time, started by moving the SARS office to another location; he began serious lectures and training of the unit’s officers in cutting-edge technology. He was of the opinion that crime fighting was beyond carrying guns and running after criminals.
He trained his team, especially Philip Renirawa, the head of the IRT in the South-West, on how to use technology to combat crime. Kyari, the master strategist in crime-busting, shook the entire South-West with the arrest of the most wanted armed robber of an era, Abiodun Ogunjobi, aka Abe Godogodo, who had been declared wanted dead or alive by six commissioners of police for over 11 years.
The arrest of Godogodo sent shock waves through the region and served as a warning signal to the crime world that someone greater than Solomon was in town. Godogodo had been a terror to many residents and defied attempts to catch him such that he was believed to have magical powers to disappear, but Kyari said: “with cutting-edge technology, I picked him like a chicken.”
Godogodo, in an interview, confirmed that: “I don’t have any magical powers, but I was too careful. I made people, even my family, and gang members, believe that I was living in Lagos, while I was living in Ibadan. I don’t womanize, I don’t drink or smoke. When I was wounded during a gun battle with the police, I went to the Republic of Benin to treat myself.
If I had treated myself in Nigeria, the doctors would have given me away to the police, but in the Republic of Benin, no one would ever report you to the police. That was why I wonder how this man, Kyari, traced me to Ibadan and picked me up like a common criminal.”
Godogodo had killed over 50 policemen and 500 Nigerians and bragged that he would never be caught alive. Kyari recovered 42 AK-47 rifles and thousands of live ammunition from Godogodo. His arrest made members of the federal legislature come down to Lagos to see things for themselves.
Not long after the celebrated arrest of Godogodo, Kyari hit the news again with the arrest of a trans-border criminal gang, led by Benjamin Osinachi, aka China. China was a Chinese-Nigerian, from his mother’s side. China was formidable. He specialized in kidnapping and armed robbery. His operational base was in Ghana and Ogun State.
China and some of his gang members were shot dead during a gun battle with Kyari and his men. The busting of China and the demystification of Godogodo made many criminals to flee the South-West for the South-East and other regions.
Another kidnapping gang, led by Andrew, a notorious criminal, was cracked by Kyari, and assorted guns, including 12 AK-47 rifles, GPMGs, and rocket launchers were recovered from the gang. Similarly, the reign of the notorious kidnapper and armed robber, Chinasa, was brought to an end by Kyari. Eleven AK-47 rifles, rocket launchers, GPMGs and thousands of rounds of ammunition were seized from him.
Another gang led by the general overseer of a church that robbed bureau de change operators at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, was cracked by Kyari. In the same fashion, the gang that abducted the mother of the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was unmasked and fished out by Kyari.
The gang had terrorized Delta, Edo, Anambra, Imo and Rivers states for weeks before it was caged. The gang was responsible for the killing of a former deputy governor of Anambra State and Supreme Court judge before the end came for their murderous activities, courtesy of the police team led by Kyari.
SARS under Kyari rescued a cousin of the business mogul Aliko Dangote from captivity. A Briton, Mr. Dickson Lee, who was kidnapped on the highway, was also rescued by Kyari’s team.
The notorious reign of Emmanuel Arab, who carried out deadly attacks along the West African coast, was tamed by Kyari; 12 AK-47 rifles, out of which four belonged to slain policemen, were recovered from the gang. Chief Obinna, who was allegedly sponsoring attacks on truck drivers and seizing their goods, was exposed by SARS under DCP Kyari.
The notorious fraudster, Princewill, aka Senator Nwobodo, who specialized in robbing bureau de change operators, was nabbed by Kyari.
One of Kyari’s greatest achievements in the line of duty was the rescue of the Orekoya children who were stolen by their nanny for ransom.
Many bank robberies were foiled in Lagos by Kyari, while many bank robbers were equally arrested by Kyari.
Before he left Lagos, he recovered 300 AK-47 rifles, GPMGs, numerous vehicles, assorted locally-made guns, small firearms, including English pistols, and assorted charms.
His numerous exploits have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.
Kyari got the IGP Commendation Award for Courage, from 2012 to 2013; Commissioner of Police Award for Courage, 2011; Best Anti-Crime Police Officer in West Africa Award from Security Watch Africa; and Star Award from the Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN), from 2011 to 2017.
As soon as he resumed as the head of the IRT in Abuja, he hit the crime scene by making the Abuja-Kaduna road uncomfortable for kidnappers who had held motorists and passengers by the jugular for a long period of time.
First to fall into his net was the 11-man gang that kidnapped the Deputy High Commissioner of Sierra Leone, Major General Alfred Claude Nelson, executive director of Dangote Group, Engr. Mansur Ahmed, chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau and several others, along with the Abuja-Kaduna expressway.
On July 19, 2016, the notorious kidnapper, ThankGod, who abducted the wife of a police officer, was nabbed. From Abuja, the IRT supervised the arrest of the kidnappers of the Oba of Ibaland, Lagos, Oba Goriola. Through technical intelligence, Kyari picked up the seven-man gang of Ijaw militants.
Shortly after, the IRT unmasked the four kidnappers that killed a Catholic priest, Rev. Father John Adeyi (Ph.D.) of the Catholic Diocese of Otukpo, Benue State.
Operatives of IRT arrested the kidnappers of Mrs. Margaret Emefiele, wife of Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The kidnappers of a group of landlords in Isheri, Lagos, were nabbed by IRT; Kyari botched the plan by a notorious kingpin who attempted to attack oil mogul, Femi Otedola.
Through intelligence, Kyari aborted the planned bombing of the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos, by Niger Delta militants. Two AK-47 rifles and two cartons of explosives and detonators were seized in the process.
The killing of notorious kidnap kingpin, Chibueze, aka Vampire, was widely celebrated. During his reign, Vampire was so formidable that many people thought he would never be arrested. Vampire terrorized the people of Imo, Delta, Rivers, Anambra and other states in the South. He even escaped from a court in broad daylight, before Kyari went after him.
Finally, the unmasking of the most wanted kidnap kingpin, Chikwudumene Onwuamadike, aka Evans, was highly celebrated. Evans, who is now standing trial for alleged kidnapping and murder, was a mysterious and elusive character until Kyari beamed his searchlight on him.
Evans was declared wanted in 2013 when he allegedly masterminded the kidnap of the owner of Young Shall Grow Motors, Chief Vincent Obianodo, in Festac Town, Lagos. A policeman attached to the business magnate was shot dead while three members of the kidnap gang also lost their lives in the failed attack. Obianado survived.
Evans allegedly became more vicious after that incident and started kidnapping mostly businessmen of Igbo origin in Lagos. He sent shivers down the spine of Igbo businessmen, who knew no peace for fear of the notorious kidnapper and his goons.
Some of Evans’s victims were Mr. Mbarikatta William Uboma, who paid N20 million ransom; Mr. Paul Cole, paid N20 million; Mr. Mohammed Jamal, a Lebanese, who paid N17 million; and Kingsley Nwokenta, who paid N15 million and surrendered his Toyota Venza car to make up the balance of the N20 million ransom.
Evans was also alleged to be responsible for the kidnap of Mr. Anthony Ozoanidobi, who paid N15 million; Leo Abraham, paid N15 million; Mr. Ojukwu Cosmas, who paid $1 million; Mr. James Uduiji, paid $1.2 million; Chief Raymond Okoye, paid $1 million; Mr. Uche Okoroafor, paid $1 million; Mr. Elias Ukachukwu, paid $1 million; and Francis Umeh, paid $1 million.
Many other victims paid ransom to Evans.
The last straw that broke Evans was the kidnap of Donatus Dunu in February 2017. Dunu’s family paid N150 million but Evans refused to release him as he claimed the family was rude to him. Dunu miraculously escaped from captivity and exposed the syndicate.
Since the unmasking and demystification of Vampire and Evans, the IRT has been enjoying the special promotion. Kyari is now the youngest DCP in Africa.
Recently, precisely on April 13, notorious kidnap kingpin, Barau Ibrahim, aka Rambo, whose gang had been terrorizing the Birnin-Gwari axis of Kaduna State, the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressway, and Zamfara State, was arrested by the IRT.
Rambo, who operated with two AK-47 rifles at the same time, was alleged to have mystical power of invisibility and had a penchant of raping his female victims and killing his male victims.
He was, however, picked up like a sitting duck by Kyari and his Scorpion Team. Recovered from Rambo were two AK-47 rifles and two AK-47 magazines with 51 live rounds of ammunition. Another senior gang member in his killer squad, Shehu Abdullahi, aka Gashin Baki, was also arrested and two AK-47s and a Golf car were recovered from him.
On April 21, more key members of the infamous Offa bank robbery gang were arrested.
IRT operatives arrested 14 gang members of a notorious kidnapping and robbery gang that allegedly murdered a university lecturer, Dr. Ibrahim Mailafia. The lecturer was with the Nasarawa State University, on his way to reunite with his family after a journey. The gang abducted and killed him when he fell into their net along the Kaduna-Zaria-Kano expressway, which was their major hunting ground.
As it is, DCP Kyari is the face of the Nigeria Police and every day he is a living hero.