The arrest of Nigerian Instagram celebrity and acclaimed estate developer Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, better known as Hushpuppi in Dubai sparked a little feud before his extradition to the US.
Hushpuppi was arrested alongside his alleged fraud squad in Dubai at the Palazzo Versace Dubai, a luxury hotel resort situated in Culture Village.
His arrest pitted Nigerian detectives against their counterparts from the United Arab Emirates and the United States, Netbuzz Africa has learnt.
According to Sources in Dubai, Nigeria and the U.S. launched the battle for the possession of Hushpuppi, following his arrest and detention by Emirati authorities earlier this week.
“When we got confirmation that Hushpuppi had been arrested in Dubai, we all started fighting to get hi because he is a subject of multiple and conflicting interests between Nigeria and the United States,” a senior Nigerian detective revealed on Friday.
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) has been leading America’s effort to take possession of Hushpuppi because many of those he allegedly scammed in years of advance fee fraud were Americans.
The total estimate of the financial value of Hushpuppi’s alleged fraud is not immediately known by Nigeria Official because they’re being hindered by poor cooperation from Dubai authorities.
According to the two officials involved in the findings of Hushpuppi’s exploits, they expressed confidence his fraud dealings spanned across Europe, U.S. and Nigeria.
Hushpuppi’s arrest was first rumoured on social media Tuesday, but Netbuzz Africa was unable to get official information until late Friday when we were tipped off his extradition to the United States.
Since Wednesday, Nigeria Officials have been tight-lipped fearing that American officials could jettison their communication and negotiations to hand over Hushpuppi should they officially announce his arrest.
But regardless of the efforts to keep things confidential, Nigerian officials say UAE authorities have frustrated all their attempts to obtain more than a cursory account of Hushpuppi’s arrest, including when and where he was held.
“They are even reluctant to tell us the preliminary charges that they have against him so we could weigh them with the charges that we have against him in Nigeria,” one of the officials said.
“We know that the money involved would be much for the Americans, but we are optimistic that we will prevail in bringing him to Nigeria to face trial.”
It is also unclear whether Hushpuppi has contacted a lawyer as of Friday evening before his extradition.
Even though Hushpuppi was not declared wanted in Nigeria and not on Interpol red notice, his activities have been regularly analysed by detectives in Nigeria and abroad, Netbuzz Africa has learnt.
“He is not on the wanted list but his arrest is of interest to both the U.S. and Nigeria,” the official said.
Nigerian authorities have begun tracking individuals within the country with suspected ties to Hushpuppi.
For years Hushpuppi used his popular Instagram account to portray a symbol of wealth with frequent whirl of postings that carefully molded an opulent image of him but till date, little has been learnt of his background as an estate developer even with his 2.3 million followers today.
Many of his followers acknowledged benefitting from his occasional cash ‘giveaways’, even though his source of affluence, which has long evoked the curiosity of bloggers, remained unclear,
Mr Abbas appeared to be the highest-profile Nigerian to be arrested so far in 2020, months after several noted Nigerians, including Obinwanne Okeke and Ismaila Mompha, were arrested in August and October 2019, respectively, for their alleged roles on separate multinational fraud charges.
While Mr Okeke and another set of about 80 Nigerians were arrested in the U.S. and charged there, Mr Mompha, who was reportedly friends with Hushpuppi, was arrested in Lagos by Nigeria’s anti-graft EFCC and slammed with multiple charges of financial crimes to the tune of N33 billion — or $85 million.