Nigeria seizes ex-oil minister's luxury apartments


Nigeria's former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

LAGOS - A Nigerian court has confiscated the $37-million (R486-million) luxury apartment complex of a former oil minister accused of fraud and money laundering, as well as rental proceeds from the properties.

Lagos high court judge Chuka Obiozor on Monday also ordered ex-minister Diezani Alison-Madueke to handover more than $2.7-million that she made leasing the apartments.

Since leaving office in 2015, Alison-Madueke had been implicated in bribery, fraud, misuse of public funds, and money laundering cases in Nigeria, Britain, Italy and the United States.

The first female president of the global oil cartel OPEC - who was one of Africa's most prominent female politicians - had always denied the allegations, which involve billions of dollars syphoned from oil deals and state accounts.

The ruling followed an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that followed an uncontested temporary forfeiture order issued last month.

The anti-graft agency had accused Alison-Madueke of acquiring the apartment complex on Lagos' ultra-chic Banana Island with stolen government cash.

READ: Peace at risk in Nigeria's oil heartlands

Banana Island is a gated community which is home to business tycoons, top politicians and celebrities.

Alison-Madueke was appointed the country's first female oil minister by former president Goodluck Jonathan in 2010.

She is currently on police bail in London after being arrested in connection with a British probe into international corruption and money laundering.

Her name also featured in a bribery complaint in the United States and a corruption investigation in Italy over a $1.3-billion oil deal between ENI and Shell.

President Muhammadu Buhari, elected in 2015 on an anti-corruption platform, is seeking to stamp-out Nigeria's widespread graft.

The 74-year-old retired general said after taking office that "mind-boggling" sums had been stolen from the public purse over the years.

Investigators have arrested several high-ranking officials from Jonathan's administration on corruption charges, but few have been convicted.