... frown at “media trial” of a “Nigerian patriot.”
Nigerians have continued to express solidarity with the CEO of West Africa’s leading airline, Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema following his indictment on Friday, by the US Attorney.
In a joint statement in Saturday, the youth wing of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, Yoruba Council of Youths Worldwide and the Ijaw Youth Council, under the auspices of Nigerian Ethnic Nationality Youth Leaders Forum (NENLF) threw their weight behind Chief Onyema, alleging that the indictment was an attempt to destroy one of Nigeria’s finest.
The youths in the statement jointly signed by Alhaji Yerima Shetimma, Chairman, NENYLF and President, Arewa Consultative Youth Forum; Aare Oladotun Hassan, Secretary General, NENYLF and President, Yoruba Council of Youths Worldwide; Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, Deputy Chairman, NENYLF and President, Ohaneze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide and Barr Pereotubo Oweilaemi, Publicity Secretary, NENYLF and President, Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, said the circumstances and timing of the said indictment was suspect as according to them, there appears to be a sinister motive behind it.
“We have been following with keen interest the conflicting narratives coming out of the United States regarding the purported indictment of Nigeria’s foremost philanthropist, Mr. Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyeama,” the statement read.
“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 through the Office of the US Attorney, 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 for many years 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 own distinguished Allen Ifechukwu Onyeama: a detribalized Nigerian per excellence.
“We are beginning to see a pattern that portends more of smacks of conspiracy by his business rivals in Nigeria, working together with their American and other foreign collaborators to rubbish one of the few outstanding philanthropist in Nigeria.”
The coalition said Onyema has over the years built a reputation as a promoter of peace and a hard working man, and cannot be allowed to be dragged in the mud by what they called a “conspiracy.”
“Onyeama has since built a longstanding 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, Onyeama has left his indefatigable footprint as a patriotic man dedicated to the service of Nigeria and Nigerians in difficult situations at various points in time, using his hard-earned income and God given wealth of wisdom,” the coalition noted.
“It was the same Onyeama who worked tirelessly to broker peace between the Coalition of Northern Groups and Igbos when it culminated into the quit notice issued on all Igbo residents in the North. He ensures that the Coalition of Northern Groups ‘Kaduna Declaration’ against Igbos was withdrawn and peace reigned in the end.
“It smacks of grand conspiracy to see how the man is being prejudicially molested, pushed and pulled in many directions with accusations yet to be determined via fair hearing trial by any court of competent jurisdiction in his fatherland, much less that of the United States.
“Fresh in the memory of majority of Nigerians, is since 2013 how Onyeama has committed unprecedented huge financial resources and provided monumental supports out of his legitimate business profit to help communities ravaged by natural disasters, terrorist proned attacks and communal conflicts to mention a few.
“Even at a very critical stage when all hopes seem lost during the most heinous xenophobic attack on Nigerians in South Africa, and the attendant diplomatic row between Nigeria and South Africa, only Onyeama came forward with a multimillion funds for the emergency evacuation of Nigerian victims from the dreaded and agonizing incidence in South Africa.
“It is on record that Onyeama multiple investments in Nigeria have been helpful not only as window of job opportunities for Nigerians from diverse backgrounds but his philanthropic gesture is seen as a classical example of excellence and humanitarian service via Corporate Social Responsibility.
“In view of our convinced love for ONYEAMA as a true Nigerian, we are displeased with the accelerated media trial chastisement and further conviction before a court trial, for this is an extreme gross inhuman conduct and audacious targeted smear campaign of calumny to his sowering image, considering the high-speed and suspicious nature of the indicted allegations wherein the American counterparts in the whole scenario were not mentioned nor psychologically brutalized, how come only Nigerians were criminally singled out, knowing fully well the whole allegation of money laundering was unfounded, according to the defence raised by his legal counsel at Alegeh & Co, they asserted that they are convinced that Mr Onyema followed due process in the purchase of airplanes through CBN laid down guidelines, without much ado this is a grievous predetermined grand conspiracy to nail down a golden heart of Africa and great Nigeria of repute.”
The group also condemned what it called an “ongoing media trial” of the Air Peace boss, noting that it was unfortunate given that the indictment was never a conviction but a mere allegation.
“We perceived the ongoing US Attorney’s media trial as a well concerted and concocted evil machinations by some global aviation giants and business rivals, in conivance with their American collaborators, we wish to emphatically state as follows:
“1. Much as Nigerians will not object a legal action by any court in the world, we will never, ever fold our arms akimbo and watch helplessnessly and hopelessly as one of our finest is being coerced and pulled down in broad daylight, without an iota of any subsisting clear evidence from a joint investigation between the US law enforcement agencies and Nigeria counterparts to determine the veracity of the claims before unleashing this dreadful move, deliberately aimed at tainting the image of Onyeama.
“2. We would like to draw the attention of his Nigeria business rivals in the aviation sector, that we suspect high level complicity and conspiracy theory by some of his sworn enemies working hand-in-hand with their American partners to destroy Onyeama Air Peace Airline and other investments.
“Consequently we shall explore all available legitimate legal means in defending one of the most exemplary Nigerian and ambassador of peace and uncommon investor, hence Mr. Onyeama deserves our unflinching supports.
“3. We call on fellow Nigerians, leaders of thoughts and civil society organizations in the country to rise up to this new judicial bringandage designed to destroy our own in a foreign land, we believe no American citizen can be submitted by the American government nor subjected to face this type of brutal attack of legal tyranny, precipitating our clarion call on the Federal government of Nigeria to urgently intervene and approach this matter diplomatically.
“4. This is indeed a time to tell the whole world, including United States officials holding and dragging Onyeama into this unforgivable duel, that enough of premeditated planned harassment of this great Nigerian.
“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 Onyeama.
“More so we are more determined to pull our love in unison in support of a dynamic and unique Nigerian: Onyeama; a great man with heart of gold and sympathy love for the downtrodden Nigerians.
“6. It is our conviction that the Air Peace CEO is an exemplary silver-lining not only in Nigeria but in the entire continent of Africa and globally.”
Onyema had also in a statement earlier on Saturday, denied the allegation of financial fraud by the US attorney, restating his commitment to go to the country’s court to clear his name.