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Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Onyema Indictment: Expert Advises Caution, Warns EFCC Against Manipulation

An international forensic expert has waded into the widespread debate that the recent United States allegations against Mr. Allen Onyema has generated.

In a published article titled: ‘Allen Onyema and Air Peace V. US Department of Justice’, Professor Emmanuel Emenyonu, a professor of Fraud and Forensic Accounting at the Southern Connecticut State University, USA dismissed public commentary that the case is related to the recent indictment of Nigerians engaged in cybercrimes stating that “nothing could be furthest from the truth as there are hardly any facts in the November 19, 209 Grand Jury indictment.”

He made it clear that the purpose of the analysis was to ‘shed some light on the issues using the tools of his professional training and exposure, given that this is of national importance to Nigeria and Nigerians both home and abroad’.

In a critical analysis of the fine details of the 35-count charge by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the professor averred that the connotation of sinister criminal activities on the part of Mr. Onyema which as suggested by the indictment and various headlines is not supported by a careful reading of the indictment. According to him, “the indicting US Federal agency will identify with the victims and the magnitude in US Dollar terms of losses incurred by the victims” which they have clearly failed to establish in this regard. Going further, he highlighted that “No victims were specifically mentioned not to talk of the monetary amount of the losses incurred by the victims”.

While noting the planned involvement of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), he advised against any rush into the matter stating that “the Nigerian EFCC should resist the temptation to be used as a pliant tool for bringing down a thriving Nigerian company that is providing jobs directly and indirectly for thousands of people all across Nigeria and beyond.” He added that the “economic interest of Nigeria should weight heavily on the minds of the leaders of EFCC as they proceed on this issue.”

Raising a possible case of bias, he noted that the US was more concerned about protecting its own by not indicting the financial institutions involved in the case rather than pursuing justice. He affirmed that “It appears here that the US DOJ is primarily concerned with protecting Wells Fargo and the two other systemically important banks named in the Indictment.”

By way of advice to the concerned, he suggested that “the accused persons should put up a robust defence to clear their names from what looks to be an overreach by zealous prosecutors.”

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