7:46 am - Wednesday December 11, 2019

$44.9million Fraud, Money laundering, Forgery &Identity Theft in America! FBI transmits Extradition documents to Nigeria, EFCC quizzes ALLEN IFECHUKWU ONYEMA, boss of Peace Airline for 10 hours…INTERPOL liaises with Nigerian law enforcement agents on further prosecution in Canada, intensify surveillance tracking *Anti-graft agency expands investigation into other Nigerian accomplices *Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta supports Onyema’s indictment by U.S. Department of Justice, vows to cripple activities of Peace airline, other fixed assets in Nigeria * ‘I am innocent of all corrupt charges in United States of America. I am gathering the right paper work and getting ready to clear my name’-embattled Onyema cries out *How Onyema made millions of dollars during Amnesty programme for Niger Delta militants * “We carried out the October 1, 2010 Independence Day twin bombings in Abuja in protest of the amnesty fraud”-Jomo Gbomo, spokesman for MEND in a statement * ‘Allen Onyema and Kingsley Kuku, former adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs, used funds meant for the amnesty programme to float Air Peace airline’-Diepreye Dikibo, ex-Militant Leaders Forum in the Niger Delta BY AHMED IDRIS/NATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR, NIGERIA, FUNLOLA OWOEYE/SPECIAL DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT & GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/AMERICAN FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF


$44.9million Fraud, Money laundering, Forgery &Identity Theft in America!

FBI transmits Extradition documents to Nigeria, EFCC quizzes ALLEN IFECHUKWU ONYEMA, boss of Peace Airline for 10 hours…INTERPOL liaises with Nigerian law enforcement agents on further prosecution in Canada, intensify surveillance tracking

*Anti-graft agency expands investigation into other Nigerian accomplices

*Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta supports Onyema’s indictment by U.S. Department of Justice, vows to cripple activities of Peace airline, other fixed assets in Nigeria

* ‘I am innocent of all corrupt charges in United States of America. I am gathering the right paper work and getting ready to clear my name’-embattled Onyema cries out

*How Onyema made millions of dollars during Amnesty programme for Niger Delta militants

* “We carried out the October 1, 2010 Independence Day twin bombings in Abuja in protest of the amnesty fraud”-Jomo Gbomo, spokesman for MEND in a statement

* ‘Allen Onyema and Kingsley Kuku, former adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs, used funds meant for the amnesty programme to float Air Peace airline’-Diepreye Dikibo, ex-Militant Leaders Forum in the Niger Delta

BY AHMED IDRIS/NATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR, NIGERIA, FUNLOLA OWOEYE/SPECIAL DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT & GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/AMERICAN FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF

THERE COMES A TIME IN LIFE WHEN THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE SEEMS TOO OVERWHELMING, NOT CAUSED BY ENVIRONMENTAL FORCES BUT BY OUR OWN HANDIWORKS. ALLEN ONYEMA, the boss of Air Peace Nigeria obviously seem to have his hands full of vicissitudes as his dark past in Niger Delta and various underhand secret-dealings in America allegedly tracked by the United States Department of Justice since 2010 had culminated in an indictment in a United States Court. The Federal Bureau of Intelligence, FBI, America’s number one law enforcement agency handling this matter had parleyed Nigeria’s top anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in a bid to have Onyema extradited to America to answer fully for his crimes of $44.9million fraud, money laundering, identity theft, forgery, even as the embattled airline owner claims innocence of any crime committed.

Having received this communication from FBI, Nigeria’s top anti-graft agency, EFCC had summoned Onyema to its Lagos office along Awolowo road, Ikoyi where he was grilled and investigated for a marathon 10 hours few days ago, as he is now placed under close security watch.

Strong indications emerged last night that the EFCC may watch-list a former Special Adviser/Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme Office seen to hands-in-glove with Onyema in allegedly looting Niger Delta. It was learnt that the ex-Special Adviser might be placed on INTERPOL red alert list. Investigation revealed that Onyema, who was quizzed on Wednesday, has been placed on administrative bail. It was, however, learnt that his activities are under the anti-graft commission’s surveillance.

Security sources in EFCC said the invitation of Onyema was part of the ongoing collaboration with the FBI and other security networks working on the alleged $44.9 million wire deals in which Onyema, his Finance Officer Ejiroghene Eghagha and two banks were implicated after the agency received communication from America’s law enforcement agency on the urgent need to have Onyema fully answer for his crimes in United States court.

The source said: “Our team of detectives on Wednesday interacted with Onyema in our Lagos office on the wire deals, especially on issues involving money laundering. The questioning was part of our ongoing collaboration with the FBI and other agencies in line with the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between Nigeria and the United States. We decided to release Onyema on administrative bail in deference to his constitutional right of innocence until proven guilty. But Onyema is on surveillance by the EFCC pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation.”

Asked why the EFCC opted to interrogate Onyema after charges have been preferred against him and Ejiroghene Eghagha in the United States, the source added: “There are vital Nigerian components of the indictment and demands of the US Government.

“For instance, the US is seeking the forfeiture of over $13 million left in some accounts linked with the suspect in the United States and Canada. The funds are $4,017,852.51 in JP Morgan Chase Bank in the US and $4,593,842.05 and $5,634,842.04 in the Bank of Montreal, Canada.

“We cannot rule out some of the money in some accounts in Nigeria. And our investigation may reveal the identities of other accomplices. Also, two Nigerian banks have been mentioned in the wire deals, especially transactions on purchase of aircraft. If there are assets to be seized in Nigeria, we have to collaborate with the US Government on the forfeiture process.”

As at press time, it was learnt that the EFCC was on the trail of a former Special Adviser/ Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme Office.

Another source said: “The suspect has gone underground. We may have no choice but to watch-list the ex-Special Adviser. We will eventually place him on INTERPOL red alert.

“Preliminary findings revealed a nexus between Amnesty Office and the activities of Onyema’s firms/groups/ NGOs as applicable. These groups include the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Centre for Non-Violence and Peace Development, All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited and Every Child Limited. “Our detectives discovered that the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN) handled the training and transformation of some former Niger Delta militants for both the Amnesty Programme Office and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).”

Responding to a question, the source said: “We are probing allegation of money laundering which led to the buying of exotic vehicles by Onyema.

His words: “He blew about N170,100,000 ( $472,500) on three vehicles with cash transferred into his BOA 8086 account from Nigerian and other foreign bank accounts. We want him to explain the sources of the cash.”

According to the unsealed indictment, Onyema bought the luxury vehicles as follows: armored Lexus LX570 ($204,000);  Rolls Royce ($180,000); and Mercedez Benz($88,500).

The indictment reads in part: “Between April 2010 and January 2016, Onyema transferred millions of dollars into his BOA 8086 account from Nigerian and other foreign bank accounts, including hundreds of thousands of dollars transferred directly from accounts for Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited, and Every Child Limited.

“Onyema used the funds in his BOA 8086 account to pay for personal living expenses, among other purchases. For example, Onyema purchased an armored Lexus LX570 ($204,000.00), using, in part, funds from BOA 8086.

“In or about January 2016, Bank of America closed BOA 8086 and issued a cashier’s cheque in the amount of $4,000,396.43 made payable to Onyema and his wife.

“On or about March 1, 2016, Onyema opened a checking account ending in 3417 (“WF 3417”) and a savings account ending in 8020 (“WF 8020”) at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Atlanta, Georgia. Both WF 3417 and WF 8020 were opened in the name of Allen I. Onyema, and Onyema was the sole authorised signatory on both accounts.

“Between on or about March 2, 2016, and May 10, 2016, Wells 8020 received numerous wire transfers totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his bank accounts domiciled in Nigeria, including but not limited to the bank account for All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited and Foundation for Ethnic Harmony.

“From March through May 2016, Onyema made numerous cash withdrawals from WF 8020 totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. WF 3417 was used to pay for personal expenses, including purchases at Atlanta, Georgia locations of Prada, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Louis Vuitton, the Apple Store, and various airlines.

“In March 2016, Onyema also used WF 8020 to purchase luxury cars, including a Roll Royce for $180,000 and a Mercedes for $88,500, among others.

“On or about November 14, 2017, Onyema opened a business savings account ending in 2151 (JPMC 2151) at a JP Morgan Chase Bank branch in Atlanta, Georgia. Both JPMC 5512 and JPMC 2151 were opened in the same name of Springfield Aviation Company, LLC, and Onyema was the sole authorized signatory on both accounts.

“In total, from 2010 through 12018, wire deposits amounting to over $44.9 million transferred from foreign accounts into Onyema’s Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase accounts.”

For all of these financial fraud, INTERPOL is liaising with the Nigerian law enforcement agents on further prosecution of Onyema in Canada, as the global security firm has now intensify its surveillance tracking on the slow-speaking boss of Air Peace Nigeria, with a warrant about to be issued for his arrest anywhere in the world.

Meanwhile, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a frontline militant group in the Niger Delta region, has backed the United States over its indictment of Air Peace Chairman/CEO Mr Allen Onyema on fraud charges.

The group, known for its 2010 Independence Day twin terror bombings in Abuja, ominously warned that Air Peace and Onyema’s assets have become “legitimate targets for attack”.

MEND, in statement by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, stated that the report of the investigation of United States officials has vindicated militant commanders who had raised eyebrows over padded list of militants from the region and the use of funds meant for the Niger Delta amnesty programme under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan for personal use by the drivers of the programme.

The group, which insisted that the 30,000 figure for the amnesty programme was grossly exaggerated, said that the “ninety-nine percent of the beneficiaries from the padded training programs had nothing to do with militancy.”

MEND decried the short-changing of what it called authentic freedom fighters of the region, and slammed the EFCC for not investigating Onyema until the indictment by the United States Department of Justice.

According to the militant group, several people in the National Assembly and militant commanders are aware of that the militants that took part in their struggle are not more than 2,000, but have chosen instead to keep quiet.

The statement reads in part:

“The administration of Goodluck Jonathan, aware of the fraud, was more interested in giving the semblance of peace in the Niger Delta rather than addressing the root issues for which we took up arms. Issues in the mutilated constitution and the need for dialogue before disarmament were completely ignored. Authentic freedom fighters like the Okah brothers, Henry and Charles, who insisted on the right steps to be taken and who opposed the glaring amnesty fraud, were labelled uncooperative, framed on trumped up charges and jailed. MEND carried out the October 1, 2010 Independence Day twin bombings in Abuja in protest of the amnesty fraud which Goodluck Jonathan was comfortable with as long as it guaranteed his presidency. [Air] Peace Airlines and every known asset belonging to Allen Onyema, and the fixed assets of every known person involved in duping the Niger Delta region through the amnesty fraud, have become legitimate targets for attack.”

But as far back as 2014, Diepreye Dikibo, the spokesman of the ex-Militant Leaders Forum in the Niger Delta, alleged that Onyema and Kingsley Kuku, former adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs, used funds meant for the amnesty programme to float Air Peace.

Kuku was the coordinator of the project while Onyema was a consultant. In a statement, Dikibo alleged that Onyema’s Foundation for Ethnic Harmony was one of the biggest beneficiaries of contracts from presidential amnesty programme.

Below is the full statement from the spokesman of the ex-militant leaders:

“Initially, there were rumors that Air Peace, a new Airline whose aircraft have recently been cited at Lagos Airports belong to the First Lady Patience Faka Jonathan. That is all not true. We believe at this moment, that those who churned out the story that the Airlines belonged to the First Lady did so deliberately to hide the truth and to mislead the people.The truth did not take too long to come out. Business concerns owned by Allen Onyema, a Lagos based businessman, colleague and close confidant of the Special adviser to the President on Niger Delta & Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme Kingsley Kuku have not been confirmed as responsible for the Airlines and more to that, Allen Onyema has now publicly confirmed that he is the Chairman of the Air Peace Airlines.

“Allen Onyema’s business outfit handled the demobilization and orientation of former Niger Delta militants which cost billions of Naira to run. Allen Onyema has also been responsible for high valued training contracts (running into billions) in the areas of welding training as well as aviation training for the Presidential Amnesty Programme in countries such as South Africa, The United States and Dubai.

“Kingsley Kuku, Allen Onyema with House of Reps Committee Members on the Niger Delta visiting Proclad Academy, Dubai (Where Allen Onyema’s business outfit ICNPD) is training Niger Delta youths in welding for millions of dollars. The appointment of Kingsley Kuku as SA, Niger Delta & Chairman of the Amnesty Programme in January 2011, was a huge blessing for Allen Onyema as it gives him automatic access to a monster chunk of the more sixty billion Naira allocated to the amnesty programme yearly.”

Revealing the statement further reads that: “Two of Allen Onyeama’s NGOs which also double as business outfits are known to be the biggest beneficiary of large value Presidential Amnesty Contracts and we can confirm that none of these outfits has any ties to the First Lady Patience Jonathan.

They include the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria, FEHN, and the International Center for Non-violence & Peace Development, ICNPD. All the contracts awarded to Allen Onyema and his business run into millions of dollars and are all grossly inflated and over valued in a manner designed to short change the Amnesty Programme and steal the billions of Naira yearly allocated to the manage the amnesty program me in the Niger Delta.”

Inside sources close to Kingsley Kuku and Allen Onyema say that Kingsley Kuku’s fears that the President might not return in 2015 and the need to settle his future spurred Kuku and Onyema to start the Airlines on time rather than wait for the Presidential election in 2015.

For the records, over time, Ex-militant leaders in the Niger Delta had spoken up about the rot in the Presidential Amnesty Programme but were not listened to. Rather, a band of lesser known and less credible leaders are being patronized by the Amnesty Programme and paid to issue press releases that threaten mayhem to Nigerians if President Jonathan is not elected in 2015 as though it was their votes that brought him to power in 2011.

In his own reaction, Onyema still maintain he is innocent of all charges against him, “ I am innocent of all fraud charges in United States of America. I work hard for my money. I am ready to face the court in America to prove my innocence and clear my name.”

*Additional reports in The Cable

Filed in: Nigeria

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