May 2 (Newshour.com.ng) – The affair could strengthen critics’ arguments that President Muhammadu Buhari was transferring stolen assets he seized from the cronies of his predecessor to his own cronies.
President-elect Bola Tinubu’s son has been linked to a London firm that paid $11 million for a property in London that was previously confiscated from a notorious oil crook.
Seyi Tinubu, Mr Tinubu’s 37-year-old son who has long cornered the outdoor advertising market in Lagos, was said to have bought the property in 2017, according to a report by business outlet Bloomberg.
The medium in a story out Tuesday morning said Seyi used an offshore shell company Aranda Overseas Corporation to close the purchase, which was facilitated through Deutsche Bank. The property is reportedly tucked in an elite neighbourhood in North London.
The report further described the property as a private three-floor residence in St. John’s Wood, equipped with an eight-car driveway, two gardens, electric gates and a gym.
The property had been previously confiscated around 2016 from Kola Aluko, a notorious oil dealer who reportedly connived with former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke to fleece Nigeria for nearly half a decade. Shortly after assuming office in May 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari started going after people suspected to have illegally enriched themselves under President Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015).
Mr Aluko bought the property for about $15 million in 2013, indicating that it was sold four years later for a lower price, an uncommon scenario for such an upmarket neighbourhood.
Bloomberg said it could not immediately find indications that Mr Tinubu, 71, was involved in the purchase, but the affair could nonetheless strengthen critics’ arguments that Mr Buhari was transferring stolen assets he seized from cronies of his predecessor to his own cronies. Mr Tinubu has publicly claimed credit for making Mr Buhari president in 2015, although the Nigerian leader, in a rare pushback last year, said his victory was a collective effort.
Several assets seized in Abuja and Lagos, for one, had been linked to Mr Buhari’s allies, including ministers in his cabinet. The outgoing Nigerian leader assumed office in 2015 claiming to despise corruption. But his wife, children and close aides have since been linked to numerous multibillion-dollar corruption scandals since 2015. The London property now linked to Seyi Tinubu was reportedly previously purchased as part of about $2 billion Mr Aluko stole in Nigerian funds, largely through shady oil deals. Mr Aluko, 53, and Mrs Alison-Madueke, 62, have severally been on the run since 2015. Some of their ill-gotten loot had been previously located by authorities in the United States and Europe.
Seyi Tinubu did not immediately return a request seeking comments about the London property from Peoples Gazette. Aides to the president-elect also declined comments on Tuesday morning. Mr Buhari’s spokespersons also declined comments.
Long before he was declared winner of Nigeria’s presidential election in February, Mr Tinubu was dogged by evidence of public corruption, drug dealing and money laundering. The drug charges were first brought against him by the FBI in the 1990s, and he was made to forfeit at least $460,000 to the United States in September 1993.
Mr Tinubu has continued to maintain his innocence, ascribing all reports of wrongdoing to his political detractors. Still, his main opponents in the last elections have compiled the charges as part of their petitions seeking to invalidate his victory, although a final ruling is not expected to come in until months after he had already been sworn in on May 29.