Here is an Indept analysis of how Mr. Allen Onyema made his money, as written by Ata Ikiddeh, as well as other things you need know about his indictment.


Ata Ikiddeh wrote –


I have taken out time to research into Mr Allen Onyema’s past and what you will read here should be of interest to every Nigerian. You will decide on the guilt or innocence of Mr Allen Onyema.


In 2007 when Yar’Adua mounted the rock, the Niger Delta was no man’s land, it was a region devouring itself.

The Niger Delta was a warring nation and Nigeria the occupying force sponsored by neo colonial imperialist oil companies, according to the agitators. Militants who branded themselves freedom fighters had shut down the region, no barge, oil tanker or oil pipeline was off limit.


Kidnapping was no longer a menace it became a nuisance, neighbours were kidnapping one another making quick easy money. It was a miracle Nigeria was still pumping crude oil. Before the elections in 2007, production had dipped to 680,000 barrels per day, from 2.2 million barrels, just over 25% of its original output. President Obsanjo a civilian President a relic of Nigeria’s military dictatorships wanted peace but hated the word diplomacy. I had this ‘ they will see me’ attitude.


But Yar’Adua was different, he was desperate for peace but had no road map. But he had heard of a certain Robinson Crusoe / Rambo type man, a man who was virtually living in the creeks, in no man’s land. This man was living in the war torn mangrove swamps, a weird nutter who was friends with the soldiers, the militants and the oil companies.


He was making a living being the only mediator in the creeks. The militants would only listen to him and no other. He was the one who convinced the militants and told them Amnesty did not mean Surrender but Development, That man’s name was Allen Onyema, a lawyer. He this crazy idea that PEACE was possible.


It is not clear when Mr Allen Onyema started the Foundation of Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN). But FEHN’s tremendous growth was as result of his unusual patriotism. Barr. Allen Ifechukwu Onyema was a lawyer who had graduated from the law school in 1989. He had a stint at law practice for a few years but was strangely drawn to conflict resolution, he was passionate about Peace. He is one of the few Africans and perhaps the only Nigerian who has been given the prestigious much coveted Martin Luther King Award.


He facilitated Peace and Reconciliation during the Idiaraba Ethnic violence in Lagos 2003. During the same period he brought Peace between the warring Yorubas and Hausas over the Lagos abattoir. In 2004 he sponsored a project called Nigeria Forever Project in the 36 States between 2004 and 2005 to promote a broad based Nationalism as against Ethnic Nationalism, it was a huge success.


These early forays on various peace projects prepared him for the Niger Delta bloody imbroglio. He waded in when there was a red line between battle hardened Nigerian soldiers and amulet wearing militants who believed their skins had been transformed to steel by black magic.


Onyema used his own funds to sponsor youths to the Nonviolence training and transformational programmes long before the Oil Companies, Federal Government and International Community began to partner with him and invest in his training programmes. The impact of success which FEHN had with the transformation of restive youths drew the attention of Shell. Prior to their encounter with FEHN, they had constantly experienced shutdowns of their operations due to the violent activities of restive youths.


These endless disruptions came to an end when FEHN trained and transformed several youths, soon other Oil Companies like Chevron, Afren Oil etc, joined in the sponsorship of youths to the FEHN training. Onyema’s method had stopped a complete shut down of the oil industry and the oil companies were happy pay him for his services.


Onyema’s methods caught the attention of not just the International Communities, but President Yar’Adua; Onyema was the nexus of Peace and Diplomacy the Federal Government had been looking for. Chief Timi Alaibe with the NDDC , got Barrister Allen Onyema and his organization – The Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN), to train and transform over 600 youths of the Niger Delta.


It was the success of this program that finally convinced the Yar’Adua to declare the Presidential Amnesty which was granted to Niger Delta Militants. Mr Allen Onyema’s hard work had finally paid off – he landed the biggest contract in Nigeria – FEHN was given the sole responsibility to rehabilitate, train and transform over 30,000 ex-militants.


He oversaw the disarmament and demobilization of over 30,000 ex-agitators and he superintended in the skilling and reintegration of these youths into the civil society in an ongoing reintegration programme. Thousands of militants were flown abroad for various kinds of training in non-violent Conflict Resolution, Aviation and Deep Sea Welding.


Here was a remark by an article at the time, “A seemingly insurmountable task which posed impossible for several years finally generated positive results at the intervention of FEHN.”


This incredibly remarkable achievement is one of the most laudable landmarks of FEHN for not only the Niger Delta but also the Nation in its entirety. The acheivement of this feat helped to rebrand the face of the Nigerian Nation before the entire world. FEHN successfully trained the Ex-militant leaders on the Kingian Nonviolence Philosophy. This laudable occurrence could not have come at a better time, as the Leaders are not just embracing the Peace culture, but are already training others.


Barrister Allen Onyema, National Chairman of FEHN achieved this feat against all odds, at a time when it seemed impossible. It was so rewarding to see the commitment and enthusiasm which the leaders displayed as they began to chart the noble cause. Among the Ex militant leaders present at the training are Farah Dagogo, Boy loaf, Sele etc”.


When Jonathan took over in 2011 he appointed Kingsley Kuku as SA, Niger Delta and Chairman of the Amnesty Programme in January 2011. He spent billions to stop the violence and fund FEHN. The NSA budget in 2011 for the Amnesty programme was – feeding allowance (N48 billion), operations cost (N20.796 billion), reintegration of transformed Niger Delta ex-militants, 2010 arrears (N4.174 billion) and reintegration of Niger Delta ex-militants (N925 million.


In 2012 Kuku’s Amnesty Programme controlled a N60 billion budget about $350 million USD). President Jonathan was determined to rescue the dwindling oil revenue – he spared no cash and this time FEHN was given the sole responsibility to rescue the nation and save Jonathan’s government from siege in the creeks. Onyema was successful. He did a job and got well paid for it.


People who may wonder why his outfit was the only Social enterprise contracted to oversee the entire multi billion naira programme can take that question up with the former President, it has nothing to do with Mr Allen Onyema. He was a man doing a job and got paid for it.


By January 2012 Allen Onyema had made a tidy pile for himself he paid tens of thousands of dollars to the Obama campaign support.


In January 2013 he was invited for an Obama victory party and was honoured with an exclusive photo-shoot with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their wives.


That same year he laid out plans to invest his fortune and Air Peace was established. A symbol of his years of non violent Peace projects in Nigeria….


His Air Peace retirement plan and him using it to help stranded Nigerians is (probably) the reason he is been “sorted”.

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In one day, the United States authorities froze about $14.2 million in bank accounts linked to companies registered by Allen Onyema, the chairman of Air Peace Limited.


The charges said Mr Onyema used several companies he set up in the U.S. to launder funds and commit bank fraud through issuance of counterfeit letters of credit.


Some of the companies’ bank accounts in the U.S. and Canada had been frozen with their substantial balances as part of the investigation, court documents showed.


The documents showed that $4,017,852.51 was seized from JP Morgan Chase Bank account number ending in 5512 held in the name of Springfield Aviation Company, LLC.


Another $4,593,842.05 held in Bank of Montreal with account number ending 7523 in the name of Springfield Aviation Inc. was also seized.


The American government also traced and seized $5,634,842.04 held in Bank of Montreal with account number ending in 515 in the name of Bluestream Aero Services, Inc.


American law enforcement authorities indicated in the charge document that efforts had commenced to secure final forfeitures of the funds.


In a statement days later, Mr Allen Onyema said he was innocent.


“As the press statement clearly stated, these are indictment (sic) that only contains charges.”


“I am innocent of all charges and the US government will find no dirt on me because I have never conducted business with any illegalities.”

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“Be rest assured that I also have my lawyers on this and these mere allegations will be refuted. I never laundered money in my life, neither have I committed bank fraud anywhere in the world. Every Kobo I transferred to the US for aircraft purchase went through the Central Bank of Nigeria LC regime and all were used for the same purpose. ”

“The American companies that received the funds are still in business. I never took a penny from any US bank or Nigerian bank. I am willing to defend my innocence in the US courts.”


Prior to his statement, the Justice Department had said in a statement that “Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, the Chairman, CEO, and founder of Air Peace, a Nigerian airline, has been charged with bank fraud and money laundering for moving more than $20 million from Nigeria through United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.”


“The international airline’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, has also been charged with bank fraud and committing aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme.”


That “Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “We will diligently protect the integrity our banking system from being corrupted by criminals, even when they disguise themselves in a cloak of international business.”


Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented on the indictment said, “Allen Onyema’s status as a wealthy businessman turned out to be a fraud. He corrupted the U.S. banking system, but his trail of deceit and trickery came to a skidding halt. DEA would like to thank the many law enforcement partners and the subsequent prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office who aided in making this investigation a success.”


“This case is a prime example of why IRS-CI seeks to partner and leverage its expertise in an effort to thwart those seeking to exploit our nation’s financial system,” said Thomas J. Holloman, IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office. “With the importance of our banking system to the movement of money around the world, those attempting to use intricate schemes to commit bank fraud through the use of falsified documents and other means should know that the odds are now heavily stacked against them as law enforcement is combining its talents to protect the sanctity and integrity of the nation’s financial system.”


“Onyema set up various innocent sounding multi-million dollar asset purchases which were nothing more than alleged fronts for his scam,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama. “I’m proud to be part of a team of law enforcement agencies that come together to identify and attack criminals that attempt to profit from the exploitation of our nation’s financial systems.”


According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the indictment, and other information presented in court: Onyema, a Nigerian citizen and businessman, is the founder and Chairman of several organizations that purport to promote peace across Nigeria, including the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, and All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited.


Beginning in 2010, Onyema began travelling frequently to Atlanta, where he opened several personal and business bank accounts. Between 2010 and 2018, over $44.9 million was allegedly transferred into his Atlanta-based accounts from foreign sources.


Onyema is also the CEO and Chairman of Nigerian airline Air Peace, which he founded in 2013. In years following the founding of Air Peace, he traveled to the United States and purchased multiple airplanes for the airline. However, over $3 million of the funds used to purchase the aircraft allegedly came from bank accounts for Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited, and Every Child Limited.


Beginning in approximately May 2016, Onyema, together with Eghagha, allegedly used a series of export letters of credit to cause banks to transfer more than $20 million into Atlanta-based bank accounts controlled by Onyema. The letters of credit were purportedly to fund the purchase of five separate Boeing 737 passenger planes by Air Peace. The letters were supported by documents such as purchase agreements, bills of sale, and appraisals proving that Air Peace was purchasing the aircraft from Springfield Aviation Company LLC, a business registered in Georgia.


However, the supporting documents were fake — Springfield Aviation Company LLC, which is owned by Onyema and managed by a person with no connection to the aviation business, never owned the aircraft, and the company that allegedly drafted the appraisals did not exist. Eghagha allegedly participated in this scheme as well, directing the Springfield Aviation manager to sign and send false documents to banks and even using the manager’s identity to further the fraud. After Onyema received the money in the United States, he allegedly laundered over $16 million of the proceeds of the fraud by transferring it to other accounts.


Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, 56, of Lagos, Nigeria, and Ejiroghene Eghagha, 37, of Lagos, Nigeria, were indicted on November 19, 2019, on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, three counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit credit application fraud, and three counts of credit application fraud. Additionally, Onyema was charged with 27 counts of money laundering, and Eghagha was charged with one count of aggravated identity theft.


The Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Commerce, and Department of Treasury are investigating this case.


This prosecution was brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Co-located Strike Forces Initiative, which enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations against a continuum of priority targets and their affiliate illicit financial networks. These prosecutor-led co-located Strike Forces capitalize on the synergy created through the long-term relationships that can be forged by agents, analysts, and prosecutors who remain together over time, and they epitomize the model that has proven most effective in combating organized crime. The specific mission of the Atlanta Strike Force is to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug trafficking and money laundering organizations designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets or Regional Priority Organization Targets and their affiliates impacting the Atlanta metropolitan area and the Northern District of Georgia.


Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.


Meanwhile, some people think this is a witch hunt by Nigerian “powers’ through their friends at the US Justice Department.

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