Air Peace boss denies plans to scuttle US trial
Embattled chairman of Air Peace airlines, Allen Onyema, has denied plans to avert trial in the United States over alleged fraud and money laundering charges.
Onyema, yesterday, disssociated himself from a human rights suit instituted in Abuja to prevent a possible extradition to U.S.
An Abuja-based lawyer had presented a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, for the enforcement of Onyema’s fundamental human rights. The lawyer prayed the court to bar the Federal Government of Nigeria and Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, as well as other government agencies from harassing or extraditing Onyema to the US against his will.
But counsels to Onyema, A.O Alegeh & Co. distanced their client from the suit, stating that at no time did Onyema solicit any lawyer to embark on such a venture.
Alegeh reiterated that their client was innocent of the allegations, and would defend this position to clear his name at the U.S. court.
The United States Department of Justice, a week ago, indicted Onyema of fraud and laundering more than $20m from Nigeria through United States bank accounts in a scheme allegedly involving false documents for the purchase of airplanes.
Onyema, 56, and the airline’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, 37, were indicted on November 19, on a one-count charge 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.
In total, Onyema was charged with 27 counts of money laundering, while Eghagha was charged with one-count of aggravated identity theft.
Though the sector is not new to such allegations, it was the first weighty accusation against a major airline, with over 50 per cent dominant share of the local market and its operations.