Niger Delta

Fresh Conflict Trigger In The Deltaic Oil Region Over Onyema As Armed Rebels Split

By Akanimo Sampson

The ongoing ordeal of the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, is currently stoking a fresh unease in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s main oil and gas region as the armed rebels in the vastly oil-polluted region are divided on the matter.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has interrogated the embattled airline chief over an alleged $44.9 million wire deals.

Onyema, has been placed on administrative bail and remains under surveillance.

Among others, Onyema in the unsealed indictment by the United States purchased an armoured Lexus LX570 ($204,000); Rolls Royce ($180,000); and Mercedez Benz ($88,500) with laundered money.

EFCC is claiming that the probe of Onyema was part of the ongoing collaboration with the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other security networks on wire deals which allegedly involves Air Peace Finance Officer Ejiroghene Eghagha and two banks implicated.

But, this Monday in a sharp departure from the MEND position, the Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC) of militia formations in the oil region declared that Onyema ‘’is a Goodwill Ambassador of the Niger Delta and we will not be party to any attempt to disparage or denigrate him’’.

Spokesperson for the JRC, Cynthia Whyte, in an online interview said, ‘’we expect Allen Onyema to put up a good defence for himself. So far, no American bank has accused him of defrauding them or absconding with their money. He is innocent until proven guilty.

‘’Those who really claim to wish the Niger Delta well should redirect their energies to resource control and a total restructuring of the Nigerian state.’’

Continuing, the obviously angry Niger Delta rebel group said, ‘’between 2005 and 2007, MEND was a filial unit of the JRC. That relationship continued even after that unit of MEND and their South African based backer was expelled by the Tompolo-led MEND.

‘’Right now, we do not know where to place such people. The key drivers of that movement have long moved on with their lives with most of them serving their people and their communities today.

‘’The remainders exist only through an email address which is operated from a deeply confined security space somewhere in Nigeria. That said, this is not the time to respond to agents of blackmail, greed, filth, violence, malice and decadence, which that MEND represents.

‘’People who traded in guns, violence and mischief have no place in a conversation centered on peace, goodwill and development. While this is not a defence of Allen Onyema, it is absurd that people who traded guns with our young people, and then encouraged these people to engage in bank robbery and kidnapping of oil companies for ransom so they can pay for their guns should not be the same people calling others corrupt.

“Thousands of armed young men were left stranded in the creeks of the Niger Delta by these gun runners. These young men became a menace to our communities and societies. It took ‘strangers’ like Allen Onyema and some others to step in and bring the promise of hope and a better life for so many of them.

‘’They sold us guns. Allen Onyema sold us peace. At a time when the United States Government was not offering Visas to high risk youths in the Niger Delta, it was Allen Onyema who came in and ensured that some of our boys could enroll in Non Violence Training Programmes offered by the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

‘’How can you then compare such people? Go and have a recheck. They built mansions for themselves in South Africa, Abuja and Lagos with the billions they made from gun running, kidnapping and related acts of violence and debauchery.

“Go and ask them how they were able to build such majestic five-star mansions for themselves and then ask them what they did to create jobs and prosperity for their people?

‘’Ask them what value they added to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of their communities? None! Until this day, they remain merchants of guns, violence and death. They are serial conmen and merchants of evil who have left lots of blood in their trail.

‘’Save for the amnesty programme, these people should have been executed by now. They added no real sustainable value to the struggle for the liberation and emancipation of the Niger Delta. So please leave us out of discussions on that unit of MEND. We know the true leaders and we respect them until this day.

‘’Why should we be concerned with the antiques of these jailbirds and their associates who are still battling to remain relevant from the current abodes? It is totally unnecessary.

“Those who followed the travails of Innoson Vehicles and its Chairman, Innocent Chukwuma in the hands of GT Bank and its EFCC collaborators will be careful and cautious in indicting Allen Onyema and Air Peace.’’