Air Peace – Award and indictment on the same day


(Posted 23rd November 2019)

No sooner had ATCNews reported last night that Air Peace had won the prestigious Nigeria Tourism Awards Balearica trophy as best domestic airline in Nigeria, did information arrive through the inboxes that the company chairman and CEO Mr. Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema together with the Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha were apparently indicted by the US Department of Justice’ in the Northern Georgia District.

Said the information received: “Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud,” according to U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “We will diligently protect the integrity our banking system from being corrupted by criminals, even when they disguise themselves in a cloak of international business.”

Reportedly did the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Commerce, and Department of Treasury investigate this case from as far back as 2016.

In America does the principle of ‘Innocent until proven guilty‘ stand tall but sources spoken to in Lagos this morning have also suggested that ‘Onyema might simply be guilty of being a successful Nigerian‘ as in the mind of those pressing the charges any success and fortunes made in Nigeria must inevitably come from criminal enterprises and corruption.

The charge sheet, in part shared with ATCNews by a source, suggests that: ‘Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, 56, of Lagos, Nigeria, and Ejiroghene Eghagha, 37, of Lagos, Nigeria, stands indicted on November 19, 2019, on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, three counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit credit application fraud, and three counts of credit application fraud. Additionally, Onyema was charged with 27 counts of money laundering, and Eghagha was charged with one count of aggravated identity theft‘.

What impact this development has on Air Peace, which has taken delivery of several aircraft in the recent past and is eyeing international expansion, is presently unclear, given that two top management members now have to stand trial in the United States of America.

Air Peace did not respond this Saturday morning to the question if an Acting CEO and an Acting Chief of Administration and Finance have already been appointed, given the charges were apparently filed on the 19th of November already but only became wider public knowledge yesterday afternoon.

Air Peace recently made waves across Africa when the airline offered Nigerians trapped in South Africa during a wave of xenophobic attacks, free flights home to the safety of their own country.