Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
A group of northern youths have indicated that they will be holding a demonstration in front of the United States Embassy to protest the indictment of the Chairman/CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, by the US Department of Justice.
The group, Arewa Youth Patriotic Front (AYPF), addressing the media at a press conference in Kaduna, has alleged that some influential persons within and outside the country are colluding to undermine Onyema’s business interests across Africa.
AYPF National Coordinator Mr Bagudu Joseph and group Secretary Yusuf Adamu said Onyema believes in the unity of the country and has provided thousands of jobs for families across the country, adding that it will be devastating should the airline take a hit as a result of Onyema’s criminal indictment. Joseph said the group may be forced to reveal those he alleges are behind the airline executive’s travails.
The group, Jospeh said, has concluded plans to hold a rally at the US Embassy in Nigeria in support of Onyema.
“The indictment was hasty and ill-motivated as there have been conflicting statements coming out of the United States. This sudden purported indictment of Onyema, who has been doing business for decades in the US, and for many years he has never been found wanting until now, raises fundamental questions about the bad timing and the growing suspicion of many Nigerians over the motive behind it,” Joseph stated.
“Onyema has over the years built a reputation of integrity, a promoter of peace and a hard-working man, and cannot be allowed to be dragged in the mud by a western conspiracy,” he said.
According to group Secretary Adamu, though the AYPF was for transparency and accountability, it will however not stay silent if it observes any hint of injustice over the issue.
“We believe his trial is politically motivated and we will not allow it to stand. We have mobilised our members across the Northern states for the peaceful rally at the US Embassy,” he said.
Onyema is accused by the United States Department of Justice of allegedly laundering over $20 million from Nigeria through US bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.