The New Nigeria Project (NNP) has urged Nigerians not to jump to conclusions on the U.S. indictment of Mr Allen Onyema, the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace airline until the allegations levelled against him were proven beyond reasonable doubt.
The National Coordinator of the organisation, Alh. Mohammed Danjuma who gave the advice at a news conference in Abuja also urged Nigerians not to castigate Onyema until he is found guilty of the allegations.
Onyema was charged with bank fraud and money laundering for moving more than $20 million from Nigeria through U.S. 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.
“Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.
Speaking further, Danjuma said that the indictment was not consistent with the person of Onyema considering how his activities had benefited the country, especially when he provided an aircraft for free transportation of Nigerians from South Africa after the xenophobic attacks on them in September.
He described Onyema as a selfless, passionate, humble, responsible, and law-abiding man who could not have changed overnight to become “what he is being accused of”.
“We dare to say that Mr Onyema has been instrumental to the relative calm and peace we enjoy today in the Niger Delta region through his leadership and training of restive youths.
“The selfless contributions and standing of Onyema do not in any way align with the allegations being levelled against him by the U.S.
“It is vital to drive home the fact that our position as promoters of NNP is not to join issues with the U.S. in any way as we are confident that Mr Onyema, being a lawyer will seek the best legal means to acquit himself.
“Our position is to present to the court of public opinion among Nigerians and the world our own version of what we consider a better truth of the person of Onyema.
He said that the group would be closely monitoring developments to see the means that would be deployed in handling the matter in the best interest of the country.
He said that the group would also provide Mr Onyema with all the support he would need within the ambit of the law to be able to present his case against the charges.