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Just In: EFCC Quizzes Allen Onyema Over $44.9 Million Wire Deals

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AS part of the ongoing probe of alleged $44.9 million wire deals, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has interrogated the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Ifechukwu Onyema.

Also, there were strong indications last night that the EFCC may watch-list a former Special Adviser/Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme Office.

It was learnt that the ex-Special Adviser might be placed on INTERPOL red alert list.

Investigation revealed that Onyema, who was quizzed on Wednesday, has been placed on administrative bail.

It was, however, learnt that his activities are under the anti-graft commission’s surveillance.

A reliable source said the invitation of Onyema was part of the ongoing collaboration with the FBI and other security networks working on the alleged $44.9 million wire deals in which Onyema, his Finance Officer Ejiroghene Eghagha and two banks were implicated.

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.”

Asked why the EFCC opted to interrogate Onyema after charges have been preferred against him and Ejiroghene Eghagha in the United States, the source added: “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.

“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.”

As at press time, it was learnt that the EFCC was on the trail of a former Special Adviser/ Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme Office.

Another source 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 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).”

Responding to a question, the source said: “We are probing allegation of money laundering which led to the buying of exotic vehicles by Onyema.

Read Also: US court issues warrant against Onyema
“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.”

According to the unsealed indictment, Onyema bought the luxury vehicles as follows: armoured Lexus LX570 ($204,000); Rolls Royce ($180,000); and Mercedez Benz($88,500).

The indictment reads in part: “Between April 2010 and January 2016, Onyema transferred millions of dollars into his BOA 8086 account from Nigerian and other foreign bank accounts, including hundreds of thousands of dollars transferred directly from accounts for Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited, and Every Child Limited.

“Onyema used the funds in his BOA 8086 account to pay for personal living expenses, among other purchases. For example, Onyema purchased an armored Lexus LX570 ($204,000.00), using, in part, funds from BOA 8086.

“In or about January 2016, Bank of America closed BOA 8086 and issued a cashier’s cheque in the amount of $4,000,396.43 made payable to Onyema and his wife.

“On or about March 1, 2016, Onyema opened a checking account ending in 3417 (“WF 3417”) and a savings account ending in 8020 (“WF 8020”) at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Atlanta, Georgia. Both WF 3417 and WF 8020 were opened in the name of Allen I. Onyema, and Onyema was the sole authorised signatory on both accounts.

“Between on or about March 2, 2016, and May 10, 2016, Wells 8020 received numerous wire transfers totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his bank accounts domiciled in Nigeria, including but not limited to the bank account for All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited and Foundation for Ethnic Harmony.

“From March through May 2016, Onyema made numerous cash withdrawals from WF 8020 totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. WF 3417 was used to pay for personal expenses, including purchases at Atlanta, Georgia locations of Prada, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Louis Vuitton, the Apple Store, and various airlines.

“In March 2016, Onyema also used WF 8020 to purchase luxury cars, including a Roll Royce for $180,000 and a Mercedes for $88,500, among others.

“On or about November 14, 2017, Onyema opened a business savings account ending in 2151 (JPMC 2151) at a JP Morgan Chase Bank branch in Atlanta, Georgia. Both JPMC 5512 and JPMC 2151 were opened in the same name of Springfield Aviation Company, LLC, and Onyema was the sole authorized signatory on both accounts.

“In total, from 2010 through 12018, wire deposits amounting to over $44.9 million transferred from foreign accounts into Onyema’s Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase accounts.”

Credit: The Nation.

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Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Arabic Inscriptions On Naira Notes

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Justices Yellin Bogoro of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday, July 16, dismissed a suit by a Lagos-based lawyer, Malcom Omirhobo, challenging the use of Arabic inscriptions on Naira notes.

According to the judge, “the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is empowered by Section 53 (1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) to print, design and issue the currency and compels the need to establish bad faith before an action can be brought to challenge the act or omission of the Federal Government or the apex court.”

The court also held that the suit challenging the Arabic inscriptions on Naira notes failed to establish that the CBN’s powers were exercised in bad faith.

Omirhobo had filed the suit against the CBN in Jan. 2020 contending amongst other things that Arabic is not one of the four official languages of Nigeria namely English, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. In the suit, the lawyer contended that Arabic is not indigenous to Nigeria and to have it on our country’s currency offends certain provisions of the Constitution.

The CBN, in its response, had filed a preliminary objection insisting that Omirhobo had no locus standi to file the matter. The bank also filed a defence.

Three other interested persons joined the suits as defendants, the Incorporated Trustees of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), its Founder, Ishaq Akintola; and a Kebbi-based legal practitioner, Umar Kalgo.

Ruling on the case, Justice Bogoro first dismissed the CBN’s preliminary objection and held that Omirhobo had the locus standi to institute the action of being a taxpayer. The court also held that public interest actions must be encouraged.

The court, however, held that Omirhobo failed to prove that the CBN acted Mala Fide, in bad faith and accordingly dismissed the suit.

In his reaction to the judgment, Omirhobo said he had applied for a Certified True Copy of the judgement and would study the same to decide his next line of action.

The lawyer also said the court noted that Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and religious country and that no ethnic group or religion is superior to the other.

The lawyer claimed that the court held that Arabic is not Nigeria’s official Language and advised that for Nigerians to coexist in harmony, ‘perhaps it is time for the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Government to remove the Arabic inscription on the N200, N500 and N1000 naira notes since it has been removed from the N5, N10, N50 and N100.’

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Kano: Gov Yusuf Reinstates Gaya Emir, Names Two Others For Karaye, Rano

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Kano State governor, Abba Yusuf has reinstated Emir of Gaya, Alhaji Aliyu Abdulkadir Gaya, and approved the appointment of two other second-class Emirs for Rano and Karaye.

According to a statement issued by the governor’s spokesperson, Sanusi Tofa, the new emirates are to serve as second with Kano as first-class emirate.

Yusuf named the newly appointed Alhaji Muhammad Karaye as the Emir of Karaye. He was the District Head of Rogo before his latest appointment.

Alhaji Muhammad Umar was named the Emir of Rano. He was the District Head of Bunkure before the latest appointment.

The statement added: “While congratulating the newly appointed Emirs, Governor Abba Yusuf enjoined them to be custodians of culture, peace, and unity of the people in their respective emirates.”

Recall that Governor Yusuf had on Tuesday signed into law three second class emirates in the state with Rano Emirate covering only Rano, Kibiya and Bunkure Local Government areas and Gaya Emirate covering only Gaya, Ajingi and Albasu Local Government areas while Karaye Emirate covers only Karaye and Rogo Local Government areas.

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Obasanjo, Ooni, Adeleke, Buratai, Oyinlola, Emir Of Biu, Others Storm Kuta For Olowu’s 60th Birthday

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The ancient town of Kuta was ago on Sunday as Olowu of Kuta, HRM Oba Dr Hameed Adekunle Makama Oyelude, CON, Tegbosun III, received dignitaries across Nigeria to celebrate his 60th birthday anniversary.

Prominent among the dignitaries were former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor Ademola Adeleke, former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former chief of army staff, Gen TY Buratai rtd who also doubles as Balogun Agba Akin of Kuta and the executive chairman of federal character commission, Dr Muheeba Dankaka.

Traditional rulers at the ceremony include Ooni of Ife, HIM Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Olowu of Owu (Abeokuta) Oba Prof Saka Matemilola, Timi of Ede, HRM Oba Munirudeen Lawal and Emir of Biu, Alhaji Midala Mustapha Umar amongst others.

Speaking earlier with journalists, Oba Makama said he was elated to receive the creme de lacreme of the society at his 60th birthday.

The revered monarch said his 60th birthday anniversary was put together by his admirers, friends, and well wishers across the country.

He, however, advised that traditional rulers should adhere strictly to their mandate as Custodian of culture and traditions, adding that Obas are not installed to be religious leaders.

The 60th birthday was preceded by a series of events like Olowu Marathon, Walk For Life, and Healthcare/ medical checkup.

There were also fireworks at the dot of 12.00am on Sunday to herald Olowu Kuta into his 60th birthday.

The Marquee Tent, which served as the venue of the ceremony, was filled to its capacity.

The Bonsue Fuji Crooner, Adewale Ayuba, was a delight to watch as he dished out good music, relishing his bonsue style as guests also appreciated him.

Gen Buratai,who is a personal friend and confidant of Olowu Kuta, said he’s delighted to be part of the celebration of the monarch who has distinguished himself as detrabilised Nigerian.

Governor Adeleke, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mallam Olawale Rasheed, commended Olowu Kuta “as a delightful example of devotion to the people”.

The statement read; “The Executive Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke has rejoiced with the Olowu of Kuta, HRM Oba Hameed Adekunle Makama Oyelude (Tegbosun III), on the auspicious occasion of his birthday, describing him as a delightful example of devotion to the people.”

Governor Adeleke, who acknowledges Oba Oyelude, sustained efforts in fostering peace and harmony in his domain, noted that the monarch’s open door policy and soft power approach has engendered unity among subjects.

The Governor lauds Oba Oyelude’s steadfast observation of culture and traditions, adding that the monarch continues to inspire a great deal of interest in Yoruba’s rich heritage through appearances and utterances.

“On this auspicious day, I congratulate HRM Oba Hameed Adekunle Makama Oyelude (Tegbosun III). Oba Oyelude is a striking pointer of what purposeful leadership should look like considering the profound impact of his influence on subjects and Kuta town,” the governor noted in a congratulatory message.

“As he turns 60 years today, I join every sons and daughters of Kuta to celebrate Kabiyesi, and commend him for the incredible leadership he exudes just as I honour his commitment to fostering peace and stability by promoting harmony in his domain.

“It is my prayer that God Almighty will grant Kabiyesi more celebrations in good health, strength and wisdom so that he can continue to offer impactful leadership and also to contribute to the promotion of Yoruba’s culture, traditions and values.”

Also, Prince Oyinlola said Olowu Kuta’s ascending into the throne of his forebears has brought development to the ancient town.

He, however, wished Oba Makama long life and prosperity, as he journeyed ahead in his mandate as Custodian of culture and traditions.
Other side attractions include ‘Iwure’ by Chief Yemi Elebuibon, ‘Oriki’ by Ajobiewe.

The Osun State cultural troupe was a delight to watch, while a northern group based in Kano entertained the guests with the melodious songs laced with Hausa-Fulani traditions.

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