The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has seized the passports of the Chairman of Air Peace Airline Mr. Allen Onyema pending investigation into his indictment for alleged $44.9 million wire deals and money laundering in the United States. US.
Recall that Onyema and his chief finance officer Ejiroghene Eghagha are facing the probe which followed the EFCC’s receipt of their indictment by the US Department of Justice.
The US government had recently indicted the duo for alleged bank fraud, credit application fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.
The NewsGuru reports that an EFCC special panel is investigating the Nigerian component of the deals.
It quoted a source as saying Onyema was quizzed by the Commission last Wednesday.
It further reports that the fate of the Air Peace CEO and Eghagha hangs on the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, MLAT, between Nigeria and the US. The treaty borders on the extradition of suspects to face trial in either country.
The source, who gave an update on the case, said: “Following his interaction with our detectives, it became imperative to restrict his movement to the country because we will need him from time to time.
“We have seized his passports for unfettered, comprehensive investigation. And so far, he has cooperated with our team.
“During our interaction, he maintained his innocence. We have, however, made progress in our preliminary investigation”.
On the likelihood of extraditing Onyema to the US, the source added: “This depends on the MLAT between Nigeria and the US. For now, we are only investigating.
“The extradition process is within the purview of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation. You should not forget that the EFCC has to investigate, establish prima facie case and arraigning the suspects in court before any extradition application can be initiated.
“The US government knows what to do as far as the invocation of the MLAT is concerned. We are only fulfilling our own part of the collaboration with the relevant US agencies.”
The US agencies handling the case are the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Commerce, and Department of Treasury.