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The Big Mistake Allen Onyema Made That Affects Air Peace, Impugn His Character And Subject Him To Lampoons

The Oasis Reporters

November 27, 2019

Air Peace Chairnan, Allen Onyema
By Greg Abolo

During the xenophobic debacle in South Africa and the rescue of several Nigerians out of their difficulties there by Allen Onyema’s airline for free, he was widely eulogized as Nigeria’s knight in shining armor. And as it is usual with the Western countries that everything successful out of Africa, in Africa, must be scrutinized, and with only a little shred of evidence, demonized and destroyed, it therefore makes the fate of the airline to seemingly hang in the balance.

In piecing facts together on this, I came across a write up by Boladale Adekoya and he said that it was Enrique Perrella – the publisher of Airways Magazine based in Miami Florida – who first raised the alarm about the suspicious business transaction of Air Peace airline in September 2018.

Enrique argued that it is somewhat financially impossible for an airline like Air Peace that is relatively unknown in international airways to order for 10 brand-new Boeing 737 Max 8s valued at $1.17billion. And in spite of the criticism he faced by Nigerians on the report, he maintained that such fund is available only to a few big international airlines and for a local airline to possess such financial strength, something was amiss.

Enrique may be partially correct, but it is obvious that he suffered from a little culture shock. American ways of doing business is at variance with the Igbo ethos of doing things. This is without prejudice to the facts available to him.

Americans live on credit. Besides, their interest rates are not high like what Nigerian banks would for instance, charge. Therefore any business start-up would approach the banks for funding.
I recall when Globacom’s Chief Executive, Mike Adenuga was purchasing equipment for his telecommunications business, he did the smart thing any Nigerian businessman would do : He bought an aircraft to ease the transportation of equipment that could only be purchased in Western countries and he paid cash by writing cheques. This drew the attention of law enforcement agencies.

Nigerians look for cash first, probably through savings or one of their various ways and means before launching into any business. This is strange to European or American businesses. That is the cultural gap in the diversity between Nigeria and America.

Boladale Adekoya added that Air Peace had a fleet of 19 aircraft comprising of 13 Boeing 737-300/500s, two Embraer ERJ-145 and two Emirates Boeing 777s, one 777-300(ER) (5N-BUU) and a -200(ER) (5N-BVE). All acquired in less than five years of operation.

“But before Enrique’s report, many, who followed the quick rise of Air Peace knew deep down, somewhere in the subconscious that something was slightly out of place in the manner the Airline operates. It is the usual gut feeling you have about something, but you are unable to provide concrete evidence to back it up. I mean, an airline came into existence without a merger, no news about a joint venture, nor any prior news of acquisition and all of a sudden, it is having the highest number of aircraft in the industry.

“On November 22, the United States Department of Justice confirmed our worst fears. Allen Onyema, the founder of Air Peace airline alongside the company’s head of finance and administration, Ejiroghene Eghagha, were indicted for bank fraud and money laundering” , he continued.

Mr. Onyema was alleged in a 36-page indictment document – spanning several years of investigations – of “defrauding financial institutions the deposits of which are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, that is, Wells Fargo Bank and JPMorgan Chase Bank NA.” Onyema was also accused of using his Foundation: Foundation for Harmony, for money laundering.

A warrant of arrest was issued against him by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on November 19. Mr. Onyema has now been declared wanted for fraud in the value of $45million.

But how did he make his money ?

In a Flashback post by The Cable, it alleges that in 2014, ex-militants accused Allen Onyema and Bayo Kuku of using Amnesty funds to set up Air Peace

The US authorities, which have reportedly issued a warrant for Onyema’s arrest, said he used several fraudulent letters of credit to American banks and initiated wire transfers to the tune of $44.9 million between 2010 and 2018.

The funds were reportedly transferred from the Nigerian bank accounts of organisations founded by Onyema. They include Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited, and Every Child Limited.

The Nigerian businessman has since denied the allegation, saying he is ready to clear his name.

But as far back as 2014, Diepreye Dikibo, 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.

Kuku and Onyema were seen with President Barrack Obama and VP Joe Biden in a photo-op during the inauguration party for Obama’s second term.

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

Below is the statement from the spokesman of the ex-militant leaders (abridged):

Initially, there were rumors that Air Peace, a new Airline whose aircraft were sighted back then at Lagos Airport belonged 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 Airline 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 Onyeama’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.

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 gave him automatic access to a monster chunk of the more than sixty billion naira allocated to the amnesty programme yearly.

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

Onyema has described the allegations against him as strange.

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 businesses run into millions of dollars and are suspected to be grossly inflated and over valued.

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Sources close to Kingsley Kuku and Allen Onyeama say that Kingsley Kuku’s fears that the President might not return in 2015 and the need to settle his future spurred Kuku and Onyeama to start the Airlines on time rather than wait for the Presidential election in 2015, according to The Cable..

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.

In January 2013, It was Allen Onyema who allegedly paid tens of thousands of dollars to the Obama campaign support group to enable Onyema and Kingsley Kuku enjoy a photo-ops with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their wives.

Credits:

The Cable
Boladale Adekoya on Twitter as @adekoyabee
Agency reports

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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