Nigerian court seizes property linked to ex-oil minister

(FILES) This file photo taken on November 27, 2014 shows Nigeria's Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke speaking to journalists ahead of the166th ordinary meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria. In a bid to expose the murky Nigerian money lurking behind some of London's most high-end properties, anti-corruption campaigners are offering an unusual property tour of the British capital, October 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAMUEL KUBANI

A Nigerian court has ordered the permanent seizure of properties worth some $7 million from the country’s former oil minister, who is facing a slew of corruption claims.

Judge Abdulaziz Anka, sitting at the Federal High Court in Lagos, on Wednesday ordered the forfeiture of properties in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

The houses and apartments, valued at 2.6 billion naira and bought through front companies, were linked to Diezani Alison-Madueke and her cousin, Donald Chidi Amamgbo.

Anti-corruption investigators found documents at Amamgbo’s office that he owned some 18 companies and properties in Britain and the United States, the court has heard.

He told Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the companies had been registered to hold property on Alison-Madueke’s behalf.

The 56-year-old, who was also the first female president of the oil cartel OPEC, was arrested in London in October 2015 as part of a British police investigation into corruption.

She is currently on bail.

Last month, a court in south London ordered a freeze on five upmarket properties in the British capital linked to Alison-Madueke and a number of her associates.

In August, another Nigerian judge ordered the confiscation of Alison-Madueke’s $37 million luxury apartment complex in the upmarket Banana Island area of Lagos.

The previous month, the US authorities announced it had begun proceedings to seize $144 million of assets belonging to associates of the former minister.

Among them were an $80 million superyacht and a $50 million luxury apartment in New York allegedly bought with the proceeds of suspect oil contracts awarded by Alison-Madueke.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was elected on a promise to tackle endemic government corruption and claw back what he said were “mind-boggling” sums of stolen public money.

In particular the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which Alison-Madueke oversaw, has been singled out for reform.