On January 19 2016 President Buhari signed a number of agreements with the United Arab Emirates concerning:
- the transfer of sentenced persons; and
- mutual legal assistance in criminal, civil and commercial matters.
This is one of the first concrete steps that Buhari has taken to combat corruption and money laundering since taking office.
According to recent media reports, the Nigerian government is seeking to use these agreements to effect the seizure of real estate in Dubai which allegedly belongs to Diezani Alison-Madueke, the petroleum minister in former President Jonathan's government. The reports state that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has identified real estate in Dubai worth more than Dh74 million (approximately $20 million). Exactly how the Nigerian authorities propose to proceed with any seizure was not indicated in the reports and the text of the agreements has not been made public.
If the reports are accurate, this would put further pressure on Alison-Madueke. In August 2017 the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the forfeiture of:
- $2.75 million found in an account alleged to have been controlled by her; and
- an apartment building in Lagos belonging to a company alleged to be beneficially owned by her.
In addition, in July 2017 the US Department of Justice filed an in rem civil complaint seeking the forfeiture of assets in the United States valued at more than $140 million, which were alleged to have been derived from a conspiracy to obtain business opportunities in the Nigerian oil and gas sector in return for corruptly offering and giving millions of dollars' worth of gifts and benefits to Alison-Madueke.
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For further information on this topic please contact Babajide Oladipo Ogundipe at Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore by telephone (+234 1 462 2502) or email (email@example.com). The Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore website can be accessed at www.sooblaw.com.