………Don’t destroy one of Nigeria’s finest, Coalition cautions American judiciary
The Nigerian Ethnic Nationality Youth Leaders Forum (NENYLF) on Saturday warned that nothing must happen to embattled Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema and his Air Peace Airline.
NENYLF also accused the business rivals of Onyema of collaborating with some people in the United States Government to harass the businessman who they called one of the finest in Nigeria.
The coalition, which consists of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide, Yoruba Council of Youths Worldwide and Ijaw Council Worldwide, spoke against the backdrop of the accausation by the United States Department of Justice that Onyema laundered over $44.5 million between 2013 and 2018 and is wanted in relation to $20 million fraud and money laundering charges.
A joint statement signed by their various Presidents: Yerima Shettima, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, Aremo Oladotun Hassan and Barrister Pereotubo Oweilaemi, said they would no longer fold their arms and watch individuals with passion to rescue Nigeria brought down through allegations like the one currently being suffered by Onyema who had, for long, done business with the US.
The statement, titled: “Don’t destroy one of Nigeria’s finest, Coalition cautions American judiciary,” reads in full: “We have been following with keen interest the conflicting narratives coming out of the United States regarding the purported indictment of Nigeria’s philanthropist, Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema.
“As law-abiding citizens, we recognize the involvement of the US Court and would not want to take a prejudicial stand on the matter. But much as we appreciate the involvement of Judiciary, we feel there is compelling reason to question this sudden, purported indictment of a Nigerian who has been doing business for decades in the US and he has never been found wanting until now. This raises fundamental questions about the bad timing and the growing suspicion of many Nigerians over the motive behind targeting our son of the soil.
“We are beginning to see a pattern that smacks of conspiracy by his business rivals in Nigeria, working together with their American collaborators to rubbish one of the few outstanding philanthropists in Nigeria.
“Onyeama has, since built the reputation of a peace promoter who brokered peace between the late President Yaradua-led Federal Government and militants of the Niger-Delta using his well-known platform of peace and reconciliation.
“Beyond Niger-Delta, Onyema has left his footprint as a man dedicated to the service of Nigerians in difficult situations, using his hard-earned income.
“It was the same Onyema who worked tirelessly to broker peace between the Coalition of Northern Groups and Igbos when it culminated into the quit notice issued all Igbo residents in the North. Working closely with the then Governor of Borno State, Onyema ensured that the Coalition of Northern Groups’ Kaduna Declaration against Igbos, leading to the clash with IPOB, was withdrawn and peace reigned in the end.
“It therefore smacks of grand conspiracy to see how the man is being pushed and pulled in many directions with accusations yet to be confirmed by any court of competent jurisdiction in his fatherland, much less that of the United States. We noticed how the narrative is being spread to the media, to achieve a desired end.
“Fresh in the memory of majority of Nigerians today is how since 2013 Onyema has committed a large chunk of his legitimate business profit to help communities ravaged by natural disasters or communal conflicts.
“Even at a very critical stage during the most heinous xenophobic attack of Nigerians in South Africa and the attendant diplomatic row between our country and South Africa, only Onyeama came forward with a huge budget for evacuating Nigerian victims from that country.
“It is on record that Onyema’s multiple investments in Nigeria have been helpful not only as window of job opportunities for Nigerians but also as a classical example of Corporate Social Responsibility.
“In view of the suspicious nature of this case that betrays a conspiracy by his suspected Nigerian business rivals and their American collaborators, we wish to state as follows:
1. Much as Nigerians will not object to a legal action by any court in the world, we will never ever fold our arms and watch hopelessly as one of our finest is being pulled down in broad daylight.
2. We would like to draw the attention of his Nigerians rivals that we suspect are working hand-in-hand with their American partners, that we will follow every legitimate legal means of defending one of the most exemplary Nigerian investors that we have in Mr. Onyema.
3. We call on fellow civil society organizations in the country to rise up to this new judicial brigandage designed to destroy our son of the soil in a foreign land.
4. This is indeed the time to tell the whole world, including United States officials holding Onyeama, that enough of this harassment scheme against successful Nigerian investors.
5. We make bold to say that at this crucial moment in the history of our beloved country what we need is more of Allen Onyema. And we are determined to promote the emergence of Nigerian investors who have great sympathy for the poor and all those facing extraordinary life’s difficulties.
6. It is our conviction that the Air Peace CEO is an exemplary silver-lining not only in Nigeria but on the continent.
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