$49.9m Fraud: EFCC Seizes Onyema’s Passport, Restricts His Movement

Allen Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace
Allen Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reportedly seized the International passports of Allen Onyema, Airpeace CEO, until investigation into his indictment for alleged $44.9 million wire deals and money laundering in the United States (US) is concluded.

According to The Nation, Onyema’s movement has also been temporarily restricted until the outcome of the probe.

Onyema and the airline’s finance officer Ejiroghene Eghagha were indicted by the US Department of Justice in allegations bordering on bank fraud, credit application fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

It was also reported that six US agencies, including the immigration office, are handling the case in America.

Following the indictment, the EFCV set up a panel to investigate the Nigerian component of the deals.

According to The Nation, the fate of the Air Peace boss and Eghagha hangs on the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between Nigeria and the US. The treaty borders on the extradition of suspects to face trial in either country.

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The source, who gave an update on the case, said: “Following his interaction with our detectives, it became imperative to restrict his movement to the country because we will need him from time to time.

“We have seized his passports for unfettered comprehensive investigation. And so far, he has cooperated with our team.

“During our interaction, he maintained his innocence. We have, however, made progress in our preliminary investigation”.

On the likelihood of extraditing Onyema to the US, the source added: “This depends on the MLAT between Nigeria and the US. For now, we are only investigating.

“The extradition process is within the purview of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation. You should not forget that the EFCC has to investigate, establish prima facie case and arraigning the suspects in court before any extradition application can be initiated.

“The US government knows what to do as far as the invocation of the MLAT is concerned. We are only fulfilling our own part of the collaboration with the relevant US agencies.”

Meanwhile, Onyema has maintained his innocence saying he has never been involved in anything fraudulent.