The Secret History Of Allen Onyema's Wealth (Air Peace Chairman)

iReport Dec 11, 2019 0 846
ugochukwu Franklin Amadike @ugochukwu
The Secret History Of Allen Onyema's Wealth (Air Peace Chairman)
As narrated by Ata Ikiddeh

We all applauded him, including the Federal Government when he single handedly airlifted our stranded brothers and sisters without a single charge from South Africa. It cost him over N300 million. We all watched as he wept openly when they embraced him. On that day Nigeria had discovered its billionaire patriot. Today as he faces the US Government on fraud and money laundering charges we are divided over him. It’s sad to see Mr Onyema being described as another cheating Igbo man who is only acting out his genes. It’s even more troubling to read Lauretta Onochie’s comment an SA to Mr President, it’s reported she said, “When AirPeace Proprietor became a “Hero”, I was not fooled. Something was pursuing him. He knew America had him where they wanted him.”

This is a short research into how Mr Allen Onyema made his billions, what you will read here should be of interest to every Nigerian. You will decide on his guilt or innocence.

In 2007 when Yar’Adua mounted the rock, the Niger Delta was a no man’s land, it was a region devouring itself. The Niger Delta was a warring nation and Nigeria the occupying force sponsored by neo colonial imperialist oil companies, according to the agitators. Militants who branded themselves freedom fighters had shut down the region, no barge, oil tanker or pipeline was off limits. Kidnapping was no longer a menace it was a nuisance, neighbours were kidnapping each other making quick easy money. It was a miracle Nigeria was still pumping crude oil. Before the elections in 2007, production had dipped to 680,000 barrels per day, from 2.2 million barrels, just over 25% of its normal output. President Obasanjo a civilian President but a relic of Nigeria’s military dictatorships wanted peace but hated the word diplomacy.

His successor Yar’Adua was different, he was desperate for peace but had no road map. But he had heard of a certain Robinson Crusoe, a Rambo type man, a man who was living in the creeks, in no man’s land. This man was living in the war torn mangrove swamps, a weird nutter who was friends with the soldiers, the militants and the oil companies. He was making a living being the only mediator in the creeks. The militants would only listen to him. He was the man who convinced the militants that Amnesty did not mean Surrender but Development. That man’s name was Allen Onyema, a lawyer. He had this crazy idea PEACE was possible in the Niger Delta.

It is not clear when Mr Allen Onyema started the Foundation of Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN). But FEHN’s tremendous growth was as result of his unusual patriotism. Barr. Allen Ifechukwu Onyema was a lawyer who had graduated from the law school in 1989. He had a stint at law practice for a few years but was strongly drawn to conflict resolution, he was passionate about Peace. He is one of the few Africans and perhaps the only Nigerian who has been given the prestigious much coveted Martin Luther King Award.

He facilitated Peace and Reconciliation during the Idiaraba Ethnic violence in Lagos 2003. During that same period he brought Peace between the warring Yorubas and Hausas over the Lagos abattoir. In 2004 he sponsored a project called Nigeria Forever Project in the 36 States between 2004 and 2005 to promote a broad based Nationalism as against Ethnic Nationalism, it was a huge success.

These early forays on various peace projects had prepared him for the Niger Delta bloody imbroglio. He waded in when there was a red line between battle hardened Nigerian soldiers and amulet wearing militants who believed their skins had been transformed to steel by black magic.

Onyema used his own funds to sponsor youths to the Nonviolence training and transformational programmes long before the Oil Companies, Federal Government and International Community began to partner with him and invest in his training programmes. The impact of success which FEHN had with the transformation of restive youths drew the attention of Shell. Prior to their encounter with FEHN, they had constantly experienced shutdowns of their operations due to the violent activities of restive youths. These endless disruptions became less when FEHN began to train and transform militants. Soon other Oil Companies like Chevron, Afren Oil etc, joined in the sponsorship of youths to the FEHN training. Onyema’s method had stopped a complete shut down of the oil industry and the oil companies were happy to pay him millions of dollars for his services.

Onyema’s methods caught the attention of not just the International Community , but President Yar’Adua; Onyema was the nexus of Peace and Diplomacy the Federal Government had been looking for. Chief Timi Alaibe who was with the NDDC , got Allen Onyema and his organization, The Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN), to train and transform over 600 youths of the Niger Delta.

It was the success of that program that finally convinced the Yar’Adua Government to declare the Presidential Amnesty which was granted to Niger Delta Militants. Mr Allen Onyema’s hard work and Peace strategy had finally paid off - he landed the biggest contract in Nigeria - FEHN was given the sole responsibility to rehabilitate, train and transform over 30,000 ex-militants. Take note, he single handedly oversaw the disarmament and demobilization of over 30,000 ex-agitators and he superintended in the skilling and reintegration of these youths into the civil society in an ongoing reintegration programme. Thousands of militants were flown abroad for various kinds of training in non-violent Conflict Resolution, Aviation and Deep Sea Welding.

Here was a remark by an article at the time -
“A seemingly insurmountable task which posed impossible for several years finally generated positive results at the intervention of FEHN. This incredibly remarkable achievement is one of the most laudable landmarks of FEHN for not only the Niger Delta but also the Nation in its entirety. The acheivement of this feat helped to rebrand the face of the Nigerian Nation before the entire world. FEHN successfully trained the Ex-militant leaders on the Kingian Nonviolence Philosophy. This laudable occurrence could not have come at a better time, as the Leaders are not just embracing the Peace culture, but are already training others. Barrister Allen Onyema, National Chairman of FEHN achieved this feat against all odds, at a time when it seemed impossible. It was so rewarding to see the commitment and enthusiasm which the leaders displayed as they began to chart the noble cause. Among the Ex militant leaders present at the training are Farah Dagogo, Boy loaf, Sele etc”.

When Jonathan took over in 2011 he appointed Kingsley Kuku as SA, Niger Delta and Chairman of the Amnesty Programme in January 2011. Jonathan spent billions to stop the violence, Federal had to fund FEHN. The NSA budget in 2011 for the Amnesty programme was - feeding allowance (N48 billion), operations cost (N20.796 billion), reintegration of transformed Niger Delta ex-militants, 2010 arrears (N4.174 billion) and reintegration of Niger Delta ex-militants (N925 million.

In 2012 Kuku’s Amnesty Programme controlled a N60 billion budget about ( $350 million USD). President Jonathan was determined to rescue the dwindling oil revenue - he spared no cash and this time FEHN was given the sole responsibility to rescue the nation and save Jonathan’s government from siege in the creeks. Onyema’s strategies were a huge success. Peace had returned to the creeks. No oil pipelines were being blown up. The militants had accepted Amnesty. Nigeria’s oil revenue had gone back to 2 million barrels of oil a day. He did a job and got well paid for it. People who may wonder why his outfit was the only Social enterprise contracted to oversee the entire multi billion naira programme can take that question up with the former President, it has nothing to do with Mr Allen Onyema. He was a man who had been contracted to do a job and he got paid for it.

By January 2012 Allen Onyema had made a tidy sum for himself he was even able to contribute tens of thousands of dollars into the Obama campaign support group. His efforts earned him an invitation in January 2013 for Obama’s victory party and was given the singular honour to have an exclusive photo-shoot with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden with their wives.

That same year he laid out plans to invest his fortune and Air Peace was established. A symbol of his years of non violent Peace projects in Nigeria.

Fast forward to 2019 why is this friend of the US now in trouble with the same American Government. Tope Fasua’s explanation on Facebook is simple and apt, he said:

“So, he ( Onyema) wants to buy an aircraft of $4m. He applies to his bank for LC for $5m. But he has opened a company in US posing as the aircraft seller. The bank transfers the sum of $5m to his US company through its US bank, and that one transfers the $4m to the real seller. The extra $1m can either remain in the US, or make its way back to naija. the spread is potentially N358 - N306. That is the roundtrip. or the money is used to purchase stuff in the US (cars, houses, clothes etc).

It would appear Mr Allen Onyema was being too smart and in business when you try to get too smart you will trip over and fall into the ‘cheat ditch’, it is inevitable. Allen wanted exclusive use of his money without giving the American system any benefit of it. Onyema didn’t want to share his Amnesty money with foreigners, perhaps his experience with the exploitative cheating white men holed up in the oil creeks had made him lose his fear of Caucasians, “they are twice more rotten than us, he must have thought, they are just good at concealing it ”. And maybe he was right but it was a mistake. Today the noose of money laundering is hanging over his head, a very serious crime in the US, more serious than forgery. But here is the critical question - where and what was the ORIGINAL SOURCE OF HIS FUNDS. That question must be answered, on this single string hangs his life. This will determine if he will spend 10 to 20yrs in an American jail or this will come down to a harmless plea bargain.

Is this money laundering? Maybe forgery and fraud but it’s definitely not the serious crime of Money Laundering. Maybe the question should be what is money laundering? Now, for the charge of money laundering to stand, the authorities have to show the money is the proceed of a crime. And for those reading this - this is how it works. Money laundering is the illegal process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions. The overall scheme of this process returns the money to the launderer in an obscure and indirect way. After money has been laundered, it can be used for legitimate purposes.

From the above brief history it is clear Mr Allen Onyema’s wealth has no criminal source, it is 100% legitimate (unless there is some other information I am not privy to). This should explain why he was confident transferring this huge fund through CBN to the United States.

Of course the question will always be why did he erect fronts and forge documents - what was he concealing? My conclusion he did that to make more money out of his own money, convoluted but true. He didn’t want to borrow money or deposit money from the US banking system where felt he would pay huge bank charges and bank interests, he decided to circumvent the system and one cannot do that without breaking the law. If this is all his offence, Mr Allen Onyema will go for a plea bargain and will walk free. This will serve as a lesson to other Nigerian businessmen.

But he remains a Nigerian Patriot. Nigeria ought to stand up for him!

Photos in no particular order:
FEHN trained IPOD, Arewa and OPC Youths in Kingian Nonviolence Principles as a strategy and a lasting solution to the present violence crisis in the Country.

* The renowned world class journalist of CNN “Richard Quest” visited the Founder and pioneer of Dr. Martin Luther King Nonviolence and Peace Education in Nigeria and the CEO of Air Peace limited. The contributions of Barrister Allen Onyema in the area of peace building in the Niger-Delta and Job creation for over 3000 Nigeria citizens attracted the international organization once again which necessitated the reasons why Richard Quest of CNN visited to uncover his passion for humanity and Nigeria as a nation.

* Allen Onyema & E K Clark at Chief Clarke's residence in kiagbodo, during FEHN's visit to the Ijaw leader & illustrius son prior to the Nigeria Forever Project. 2004.

* Barr. Allen Onyema & the Ovie of Agbon at the Ovie.s Palace during the tour of the Niger Delta, prior to the First Nigeria Forever Project 2004.

* FEHN trained IPOD, Arewa and OPC Youths in Kingian Nonviolence Principles as a strategy and a lasting solution to the present violence crisis in the Country. FEHN has contributed in no small measure to the stability currently enjoyed in Nigeria even today. His timely engagement of the Arewa, Ohaneze, Masob, IPOB, OPC, MBYF Youth Leaders.
* Photo with President Obama and Biden at Obama’s victory party.

1. Allen Onyema Wikipedia
2. Kingsley Kuku Wikipedia
3. FEHN official site
4. Several online newspapers, apologies didn’t catalogue their names.

The Secret History Of Allen Onyema's Wealth (Air Peace Chairman)
The Secret History Of Allen Onyema's Wealth (Air Peace Chairman)
The Secret History Of Allen Onyema's Wealth (Air Peace Chairman)
The Secret History Of Allen Onyema's Wealth (Air Peace Chairman)
Franklin Amadike Franklin Amadike Dec 11, 2019
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