Controversial issues affecting the public and personal interests of members of the society arise from time to time. One of such issues remains the controversial case of Nigerian Instagram celebrity- Hushpupi which is the alias for “Ramon Olorunwa Abbas”, a 37-year-old who was famous for posting photos of his lavish lifestyle on Instagram, where he had about 2.5m followers.
Hushpuppi is alleged to have been involved in numerous fraudulent schemes including bank cyber-heists, business email compromise (BEC)schemes, money laundering, cyber-fraud, impersonation, identity theft, among others. BEC schemes often involve a computer hacker gaining unauthorized access to a business-email account, blocking or redirecting communications to and/or from that email account, and then using the compromised email account to communicate and enter into transactions on behalf of the victim with the intent to defraud.
In one scheme, Hushpuppi attempted to steal more than $1.1m from someone who wanted to fund a new children’s school in Qatar. This was allegedly the crime that landed him in the arms of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Hushpuppi was arrested on 4th July 2020 by the Dubai Police and handed over to the FBI in the United States. Large amount of evidence was gathered during investigations tying Hushpuppi to several fake accounts from which his fraudulent activities were carried out.
In Hushpuppi’s first year in prison, he maintained his innocence. However, it was recently revealed that Hushpuppi entered a plea bargain with the United States Government. Notable terms in his plea include:
- consent to proceed with his sentencing hearing by video teleconferencing capability or telephone
- full restitution to the victim(s) of the offence
- right to appeal only on grounds that the guilty plea was involuntary.
Another dimension to the Hushpuppi case surfaced with the allegation against the Deputy Commissioner of Police and head of the Nigerian Police Intelligence Response Team, Abba Kyari, who has been accused by the US FBI of aiding and abetting the fraud involving Hushpuppi in Qatar. Hushpuppi has also revealed that he requested DCP Kyari to arrest and detain one Kelly Vincent Chibuzo in exchange for a monetary reward.
A warrant of arrest has been issued against DCP Kyari by the U.S. District Court of Central California for his alleged role in the Qatari scam. However, a Court in the United States cannot simply order the arrest of a Nigerian living inside Nigeria because of the rules governing state sovereignty. DCP Kyari has been consistent in denying all the allegations of crime. According to him, he only connected Hushpuppi to his tailor for native wears and caps. However, The Police Service Commission has put DCP Kyari on suspension pending the conclusion of investigations.
- Premuim Times, ‘Hushpuppi makes U-turn, pleads guilty to fraud charges in U.S.’ (July 28,2021)< https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/476281-hushpuppi-makes-u-turn-pleads-guilty-to-fraud-charges-in-u-s.html >
- BBC News “Hushpuppi: Nigerian influencer pleads guilty to money laundering” (July 29 2021) < https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-58002932>