The arrest this week of a Nigerian Instagram celebrity has pitted Nigerian detectives against their counterparts from the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
Nigeria and the U.S. launched the battle for the possession of Mr Raymond, a.k.a Hushpuppi, following his arrest and detention by Emirati authorities earlier this week, according to two officials familiar with the development.
“Immediately we got confirmation that he had been arrested in Dubai, we all started fighting to get him,” a senior Nigerian detective said on Friday.
“He is a subject of multiple and conflicting interests between Nigeria and the United States.”
Officials said the F.B.I. has been leading America’s effort to take possession of Mr Raymond because many of those he allegedly scammed in years of advance fee fraud were Americans.
Officials could not immediately estimate the financial value of Mr Raymond’ alleged fraud, citing poor cooperation from Dubai authorities, but they expressed confidence his exploits spanned across Europe, U.S. and Nigeria.Mr Raymond’ arrest was first rumoured on Nigerian social media Tuesday, but we were unable to get official corroboration until Friday.
Even then, two officials who confirmed knowledge of the arrest and offered preliminary information elected not to do so on the record — fearing that USA officials could jettison back channel negotiations that began on Thursday morning.
Nigerian officials said 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.”