Popular Nigerian police detective, Abba Kyari has opened up about his many exploits on the field.
Abba Kyari in action
His ambition in life was to become a pilot and fly huge aeroplane around the globe. But because his poor parents could not afford to pay the huge amount required to train a pilot, he opted for his other love, the police.
But before becoming a police officer, Abba Kyari, the top cop in charge of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT), played the role of a judge advocate in his family of over 30 children, where he presided over the family court and meted punishment to whoever was found guilty.
Apart from that he also worked as an Okada rider because of his poor parental background to see him through his secondary and university education and with the proceeds he got from the Okada business he was able to take care of his younger siblings having come from a polygamous family.
So, after his secondary and university education, he applied to join the police. He was successful and thereafter went for training.
However, before applying to join the police, Kyari, had applied for the job of a lecturer in one of the universities and another at the printing and minting company.
Incidentally, he got the offer as a lecturer while at the same time he was called for training at the police college, even as the offer from the printing and minting company came when he was already in training at the police college.
Upon his passing out from the police college, he was posted to Adamawa State where he started his career as an officer.
As a young officer, Kyari said that he enjoyed watching investigative channels, reading books on crime and investigations, coupled with his background of being the judge in his family. All these, he said, helped built him to become good at what he is doing today.
Married with children, the Yobe State-born cop, said the secret to his success and that of his team lies purely on God first, technology, dedication, hard work, determination and most of the welfare of his men.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, Kyari, who has been a cop for about 20 years, said that even though his kind of job involves taking very dangerous risks, what keep him going is when he gets the culprits arrested after a hard chase, which sometimes take months and even years. Hear him:
Why I chose to join the police
I chose to join the police because I wanted to be a detective, I want to investigate matters, I want to detect the cause of crime, I want to arrest the culprit and I have always had these three things on my mind right from when I was a child. It has always been my ambition right from when I was in the primary school to join the police. I have always had interest in anything that has to do with detective work. I actually wanted to become a pilot or a detective, but when I reached my secondary school level, I now discovered that to be a pilot, there are some compulsory things that you will follow and it is very expensive. The schools are very expensive and my family was not that rich to sponsor me in flying school. From there I started thinking of plan B, which is to become a police officer. You know I was watching so many detective movies and reading many books on detective and all of that. I got admission into the university and by the time I finished, I picked the police form and I was successful and went for training. But before this time, as the eldest son of my father who has more than 30 children, I use to handle most of the domestic cases among my younger ones. You know we are from different mothers and so we use to have too many troubles like fighting, quarreling and all those usual disagreements amongst children and I was always the one to judge the cases because somehow they will bring the cases to me. What I do is that I will first hear from both sides and that way I detect easily the one that is lying, pass the judgment and give the appropriate punishment to whoever caused the problem.
So, I did that for a very long time in the house so much so that everybody trusted my judgment. As a matter of fact they trusted my judgment more than that of my father to the extent that they prefer to bring their cases to me whenever they have problems. And because of the large family that we have, I automatically became the detective of that house from that time, so that was how I started. During my university days it was the same thing, all the cases in our family were being handled by me and that helped me very much.
When I finished my NYSC, the police was recruiting and I got the form, filled it and was lucky to be among the few that were selected for training, I was 24 years at the time and I happened to be the youngest candidate from my state. I had the right height and my birth certificate was the original from the hospital where I was born and it tallied with my primary and secondary school. All my appearance was right, I had the height right, I was the youngest from my state and there was no godfather from anywhere. I attended the state screening and out of 60 of us that attended, they took 19 and I was fortunate and we went for yet another national screening and among the 19, they took 10 of us and that was how my journey in the police started in 1999/2000 when I reported for training along other of my colleagues from different parts of the country.
After 19 months of training we passed out and I was sent to Adamawa State in May, 2002, where I started work as a police officer.
A hustler from childhood
I have been a hustler and a go-getter right from my childhood days. I became an Okada rider while I was in secondary school and continued even while I was in the university. That was what I used to support myself and even took care of many of my younger ones because their mothers were no longer in the house.
You know my mother left our house when I was just seven years old, leaving me and three of my younger ones, and there were also other mothers and wives of my father who also left leaving their children behind, so those of my siblings whose mothers were still in the house had more advantage over those of us whose mothers have left, so it was not easy especially during meal time.
At that time, we used to eat twice in a day and the food is usually served in a group and if you miss that group eating for any reason, you are on your own. So one must be around when it’s time for the group food. But if you have a mother in the house you don’t have a problem because she will always give you food; so that was what pushed me to start doing the Okada business to feed myself and take care of my younger ones. My Okada experience was very tedious because no matter how I worked, the highest I got was N80. But whenever there is scarcity of fuel, I make more money because I will always buy and resell to make about N200 daily, but when there is no fuel scarcity, I have to do my normal Okada business of carrying passengers that was how I survived.
Experiences as family judge
Some of the experiences I gathered while being a judge in my family were not to believe in everything people tell you because they will never tell you the truth. My reason was because people always try to defend themselves wherever there is a problem. People will try to lie, dodge and do all manner of things just to declare their innocence. So, it’s important that you listen to both sides and you also try and get witnesses who will come and tell you what they have seen and then you will now look at your evidences from people on the ground that you can use to corroborate whatever they have told you or not.
As at that tender age, I was able to do all those kinds of investigations independently and at the end of the day, they themselves will now come and confess and say that my discovery is true that this is actually what happened. So, that was how I started in our extended polygamous family.
Some people believe most police officers use juju to succeed
No, no, no. I don’t believe in all those fetish stuffs. I will tell you that the reason for all our successes is the use of technology, dedication, hard work and relentlessness. These are the things that come together and make things happen.
I always tell people that if you go to Europe and America, you will see how these people have advanced in fighting crime and they are like 500 years ahead of us. Would you say they are using juju? It is not juju that they use to get to where they are today, it is cheer dedication and hard work. If you are dedicated in whatever job you do and put in your best, you will always get result. So, if we get a society where everybody is doing his best and working hard to make sure that they are doing the right thing and being patriotic, things would move forward. So, there is nothing like juju, there is nothing like that. It’s sheer hard work, dedication, use of technology and relentlessness, which is what we have been doing. And I always follow up my cases. I make sure that I follow up on what the boys are doing. I give them directives, I follow up, I have plan A, I have plan B and I have plan C, of all the matters I am handling so that in the event that the first one doesn’t work, the second and third would certainly yield result. So that is how we have been operating. Another secret of our success is that I so much believe in the welfare of my personnel. Their welfare is very, very important. I don’t believe in numbers without adequate welfare. Most times that they have deployed 500 to 600 men. If this number of men has been deployed and there is no RCA, no incentives for them to take care for themselves, you will find that they will go there demoralized and they will not do their work well. But when you move men and all their logistics and whatever that they need is provided, you will see that they will certainly perform. So, that is one of our secret at the IRT, and not juju as its perceived by people with dirty minds.
Have you ever been tempted with bribe?
Sure, I have been tempted on many occasions because of the nature of my job. There are so many cases that we have been doing that people will come with lots of money, I mean huge, huge sums of money to bribe us to throw away such cases. Some people would definitely want you to compromise after stolen or eating somebody’s else money. When you arrest them, they will be telling you oh, please I will give you so and so percentage if you allow me go and all of that. That is virtually a daily happening as far as our detective work is concerned.
What was the highest amount that you have ever been tempted with?
Yes, when we arrested Evans, he offered us $2million if we can keep quiet and let him go and he offered to provide the cash in 48hours.
But we rejected his offer, we had to move away with him and then I blew the thing up. And I think that should be the highest amount that I have ever been tempted with. There was also the case where some people stole money from a Bureau De Change outlet totaling $2million that was brought to us and we were able to recover $1.8million from the thieves among them a bank staff.
So, after the recovery, those guys offered to pay us 50 per cent of the money that we recovered which is about $900,000. We also rejected that offer and informed the owner of the money about the arrest and recovering $1.8million. So, that was another big offer that was made to us.
What keeps you going
What keeps me going, one is that I have a passion for the job and I always believe that whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. I hate cheating, I don’t like people being attacked, I don’t like people being killed, I don’t want people being defrauded. I hate crime against innocent people, so whenever it happens, I will go to the extreme to see that justice is done. I will go all out to see that that person’s money or property has been recovered back. I really derive happiness from that. That for me is better than all the money in the world. If we are looking for a notorious criminal for sometime, the moment we arrest such person, it makes me very happy. All the happiest moments in my life is when we arrest criminals, that is when you will see me very happy and you can never quantify that kind of happiness with money. Money cannot give me such happiness. Like the period when we arrested Evans, Godogo, when we got all those vampires and so many deadly criminals we arrested along these Abuja/Kaduna express road and all those many breakthroughs, give me so much happiness in life. And that is why I always strive to make sure we get these people so that we can have peace of mind because if we don’t get these criminals our minds are always troubled.
Are you not scared going after these criminals in the bush?
Scared! Not at all because we prepare ourselves very well and gather our intelligence before we move for such deadly operations. We make sure we know their total number, the strength of their armoury, how they operate, their hideouts, their exact locations, where they can possibly ambush us when we eventually go for them and several other intelligence. We take note of all these threats before we go after them. We don’t just rush people, we must gather enough evidence before swooping on them. And besides, this is what we have sworn to do, this is what we have taken the oath as polices officers to do; so we must do it and whatever happens in the process especially death, we feel that we didn’t die in vain. We feel that in the event that any of our men gets killed in the cause of our operations, he died a good cause and that cause is that we are fighting for our country, we are fighting to restore peace in our country. So, it is a good cause. But we don’t pray that anything should happen to us, but at the same time, you know we cannot be succeeding all the time. You cannot be 100 per cent successful in whatever you are doing. Sometimes things can happen and because such things happen do not mean you start to give up. Yes, you get dampened emotionally, but at the same time, you learn from the mistakes, take precautions and do a general overhauling and re-strategize.
Do you have time for your family?
Yes I do, but not everyday. I create time for them mostly on Sundays. I go to work everyday, but I don’t work late on Sundays because that is the only time that I have to spend with them.
How do your children feel about your absence and successes?
My children know the kind of work that I do and I make sure I call them especially when I am out for an operation. Like my youngest child that is just five years old, each time I call, she will ask how many thieves did you catch? My children all know Evans. In fact, my youngest child likes talking so whenever I tell her that we caught about 30 criminals, she will ask are they like Evans, is Evans their boss. She always wants to know because she believes that Evans is the biggest thief in the country. So, whoever I catch she wants to know if they are big like Evans and I will now explain to her no they are not like him and she will now say yes I know because there is no one like Evans.
How do you fulfill your fatherly role when you are around?
When I am around I am always with them, we chat, I take them out and all of that. But when I am not around, I am always on a video call with them and that way they don’t miss me that much because seeing me on the video call makes them feel like I am in the house with them.
Do you ever sleep?
Yes I sleep around 3 O’clock in the mornings everyday because of the fact that I have been OC SARS, in Lagos State for five years and I have not been sleeping until 3-30 a.m, so my system automatically adjusted to that so I don’t feel sleepy until around this time.
Having achieved your dream of becoming a police officer what are your challenges?
We actually need support from the government because for more than 30 years the Nigerian Police Force has not gotten the kind of funding that it needed. We have deficiency in so many-areas and many of the logistics that we needed to work with are not on the ground. These are some of the things that we are lacking so I believe that if we can get proper funding, we can do even better.