Concerned Diaspora Citizens has enjoined President Muhammadu Buhari to wade into the ordeal faced by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, to avert the impending calamity that may befall the country’s aviation industry; which, to all intents and purposes, will not be in the interest of the country.
In a statement yesterday by Nosa Aigbokhan, the group described the allegations of bank fraud and money laundering against the businessman as a deliberate attempt to kill Air Peace and deepen the unemployment crisis in the country.
“The indictment is an attempt to kill Air Peace and create more unemployment for Nigerians under President Buhari’s administration. Before we know it, Nigeria will be taking a prime position on Global Unemployment Index (GUI),” noted the statement.
Drawing inference from other foreign jurisdictions, especially in cases of financial crimes and drug-related matters, the group asserted that Onyema should be treated as an individual, not as CEO of Air Peace, to avoid unemployment and uncertainty for his employees.
“Nigerians, we have to stop it. We beg President Buhari to systematically study and stop Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies from helping foreign countries in stereotyping Nigerians both home and abroad. This morning, we read that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has seized Mr. Onyema’s travel documents and some people are even talking about extradition,” Aigbokhan said.
In the same vein, the New Nigeria Project (NNP) has queried the competence of the US district court in Atlanta, Georgia for charging Onyema of bank fraud and money laundering. The national coordinator, Alhaji Mohammed Danjuma, during a press briefing yesterday, pointed out that Nigeria was not a US colony, hence the competence of the court must be questioned.
He said, “Onyema recently purchased an aircraft from the U.S., paid tax and there were no issues about receiving money from the tax and the aircraft. By the time Onyema goes to court to present his case, most of the details would be thrashed out.”
The group, however, appealed to Nigerians not to declare Onyema guilty before the court of the law’s judgment. Danjuma suggested that Onyema could pursue the case legally through diplomatic means, to see how he would be acquitted of those charges, adding that as an organisation that had been following the antecedents of the Air Peace boss, the charges were irreconcilable with the person of the accused.
Amid the recriminations, a militant group, the Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC), has come out to distance itself from the castigation of Onyema, by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). JRC spokesperson, Cynthia Whyte, described Onyema as a “goodwill ambassador of the Niger Delta, hence the group would not be party to any attempts to disparage or denigrate him.”
She added: “We expect Allen Onyema to put up a good defence for himself. So far, no American bank has accused him of defrauding or absconding with its money. He is innocent until proven guilty.” Whyte, who flayed MEND, said: “it was a sheer waste of time to respond to agents of blackmail, greed, filth, violence, malice and decadence which that MEND represents.”
The spokesperson claimed: “People who traded in guns, violence and mischief have no place in a conversation centered on peace, goodwill and development. While this is not a defence of Allen Onyema, it is absurd that people who traded guns with our young people, and then encouraged these people to engage in bank robberies and kidnappings for ransoms so they can pay for their guns should not be the same people calling others corrupt.”
JRC alleged that thousands of armed young men were left stranded in the creeks of the Niger Delta by MEND. These young men, according to the group, “later became a menace to communities in the Niger Delta. It took ‘strangers’ like Allen Onyema and some others to step in and bring the promise of hope and a better life for so many of them. They sold us guns. Allen Onyema sold us peace,” Whyte stated.
The JRC recalled that at a time when the United States government was not offering visas to high-risk youths in the Niger Delta, it was “Onyema who came in and ensured that some of the boys from the region who accepted the amnesty offer of the Federal Government could enroll in non-violence training programmes offered by the Martin Luther King Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.”