Embattled businessman and owner of Air Peace, Allen Onyema who was recently indicted in the United States for multi-million dollar fraud, has left both supporters and critics wondering about the actual source of his wealth.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Onyema was indicted by a grand jury on several counts of criminal charges bordering on identity theft, bank fraud and money laundering.
The Air Peace CEO is facing the charges alongside Ejiroghene Eghagha, the airline’s head of finance and administration.
However quick research shows that Air Peace Limited was established in 2013, and in all 5 years, had gained the largest share in Nigeria’s domestic air travel, according to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Apart from its successful operation within the country, Airpeace as continued to record success in travels abroad — To countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.
In an interview with City People Magazine in April 2017, Onyema debunked claims that he was fronting for former Nigerian First Lady, Patience Jonathan.
He told the entertainment weekly Magazine based in Lagos, that he had “never met” the former Nigerian First Lady in his life.
According to Onyema, he grew up in Warri, but moved to Lagos shortly after graduating from the University of Ibadan and becoming a lawyer in 1989. When he moved to Lagos in 1990, he initially joined a law firm, where he worked for a few years before going into real estate.
He said he made his fortune in real estate, selling lands in Lekki and other priced areas in the Nigerian commercial capital.
“By 2008, I was receiving about 18 percent interest on my deposits. I was building estates from interest alone,” he told City People.
He revealed also that it was in 2008 that he discussed launching Air Peace with his wife, and getting a license for the airline took several years with exhaustive efforts.
“I brought my finances into it (Air Peace) while getting support from the banks too,” Mr Onyema told City People.
“When I had gone halfway with the acquisition of my aircraft, I discovered that it was more than I thought. So I borrowed money from the banks.
“Fidelity Bank is there for anyone who cares to see. I pay the bank daily from sales. It is automatic,” Mr Onyema said.
“I have integrity and every bank that knows my pedigree like Fidelity would readily do business with me,” Mr Onyema said. “I equally borrowed from Zenith but not as much as I did with Fidelity. This is how I set up my airline. For the record, I own Air Peace 100 percent.”