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EFCC grills Air Peace chairman over alleged $44.9m wire deals

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) interrogated Air Peace Chairman, Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, over the alleged $44.9 million transfer deals.

A former consultant/special coordinator of the amnesty program office is also on the checklist and will be included in the INTERPOL red alert list.

The Nation reports that Onyema was placed on administrative bail and remains under surveillance.

Among others, Onyema in the unsealed US indictment bought a Lexus LX570 battleship ($204,000); Rolls Royce ($180,000); and Mercedez Benz ($88.500) with money laundering.

An EFCC source told the newspaper that Onyema’s investigation was part of the ongoing collaboration with the FBI and other security networks in cable deals involving the air peace financial officer, Ejiroghene Eghagha, and that they were two banks involved.

The source said: “Our team of detectives on Wednesday interacted with Onyema in our Lagos office on the wire deals, especially on issues involving money laundering.

“The questioning was part of our ongoing collaboration with the FBI and other agencies in line with the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between Nigeria and the United States.

“We decided to release Onyema on administrative bail in deference to his constitutional right of innocence until proven guilty.

“But Onyema is on surveillance by the EFCC pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation.”

On why the probe started after the United States indicted Onyema, the source said: “There are vital Nigerian components of the indictment and demands of the US Government.

“For instance, the US is seeking the forfeiture of over $13 million left in some accounts linked with the suspect in the United States and Canada. The funds are $4,017,852.51 in JP Morgan Chase Bank in the US and $4,593,842.05 and $5,634,842.04 in the Bank of Montreal, Canada.

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“We cannot rule out some of the money in some accounts in Nigeria. And our investigation may reveal the identities of other accomplices. Also, two Nigerian banks have been mentioned in the wire deals, especially transactions on purchase of aircraft.

“If there are assets to be seized in Nigeria, we have to collaborate with the US Government on the forfeiture process.”

On involvement of former Special Adviser/ Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme Office, EFCC said: “The suspect has gone underground. We may have no choice but to watch-list the ex-Special Adviser. We will eventually place him on INTERPOL red alert.

“Preliminary findings revealed a nexus between the Amnesty Office and the activities of Onyema’s firms/groups/ NGOs as applicable.

“These groups include the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Centre for Non-Violence and Peace Development, All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited and Every Child Limited.

“Our detectives discovered that the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN) handled the training and transformation of some former Niger Delta militants for both the Amnesty Programme Office and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

“He blew about N170,100,000 ( $472,500) on three vehicles with cash transferred into his BOA 8086 account from Nigerian and other foreign bank accounts. We want him to explain the sources of the cash.”