200 Nigerian Politicians, Security Officers Invest nearly $1 billion in Dubai Property Market

About 200 Nigerian politicians and security officers have invested nearly $1 billion (N1.49 trillion) in the sprawling Dubai property market in less than two decades, according to business day report.

A new investigation reveals that roughly 200 Nigerian politicians, security officers, and their associates have invested nearly $1 billion (N1.49 trillion) in Dubai’s property market over the past two decades, according to BusinessDay. This includes wives, children of politically exposed persons (PEPs), court judges, and top civil servants who collectively own 1,600 properties in Dubai.

Unveiling Dubai Investments

This information comes from “Dubai Unlocked,” a six-month investigation led by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) in collaboration with over 70 media partners, including Nigeria’s Economy Post. BusinessDay gained exclusive access to files from Economy Post detailing these property holdings.

Significant Increase in Investments

The estimated value of these Nigerian-owned properties in Dubai is $997.79 million. This marks a substantial rise compared to 2020, when BusinessDay reports only 800 properties worth $400 million were linked to Nigerian PEPs in Dubai.

Nigerians Top Foreign Property Buyers

Nigerians are the second-largest foreign purchasers of Dubai property after India, according to the Dubai Land Department. BusinessDay’s analysis indicates that 88% of properties attributed to Nigerians in Dubai are owned by PEPs, high-ranking security officials, civil servants, their families, and individuals connected to the government.

Verification and Legality

BusinessDay employed social media analysis and birthdates listed in the data to verify the identities of those involved. The report also acknowledges that owning property abroad for personal investment purposes is not inherently illegal, as noted by law lecturer Emmanuel Okeke.

Nigerian owners of Dubai properties

Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former vice president, is linked with a three-bedroom flat estimated at $1.23 million at Palm Tower in Dubai. His daughter, Hadiza, is also linked with a one-bedroom flat at Trade Centre Second, valued at $104,135. The 23-year-old Atiku’s daughter also owns another two-bedroom flat at Hadaeq Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid estimated at $289,305.75. The flat, the data shows, serves a commercial purpose.

Lateef Olasunkanmi Fagbemi, Nigeria’s chief attorney and justice minister, is linked with an $85,846 property at Al Hebiah Third. Fagbemi is a lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai owns a four-bedroom flat valued at $193,084 at Al Hebiah Third. He governed the northwestern state of Kaduna for eight years.

Eight properties valued at $2.28 million are linked to Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 elections. The properties are located in choice locations such as Burj Khalifa, Al Yelayiss, Al Barsha South Fourth, and Town Square Safi 2.

Datti is currently not in government, but he was once a senator and member of the House of Representatives. He founded Baze University in 2011.

One property, a villa, valued at $1.13 million was traced to Patrick Ifeanyi Uba, chief executive of Capital Oil and Anambra South senator.

However, eight properties were traced to his wife, Uchenna Uba. The values of all the properties were not inserted in the files, but one property (a villa) at Wadi Al Safa 7 costs about $1.13 million, while two others are valued at $294, 516 each.

Seven properties valued at $1.48 million are linked to Attahiru Bafarawa, former Sokoto State governor, while another real estate asset, located at Palm Jumeirah and valued at $750,112, belongs to his wife.

A property at Burj Khalifa valued at $$822,016 belongs to Ahmed Markafi, former Kaduna State governor.

Late Tafa Balogun, former police chief, is linked with five properties in various locations, including Marsa Dubai. The properties cost more than $1 million today.

A property was traced to a former police assistant inspector-general (AIG), Mbu Joseph Mbu.

Three properties are linked with Amadu Adah Ali, former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chair, while one valued at $422,887 was traced to his daughter, Khadijah Nneamaka Ali.

Eleven properties were traced to Maina Ma Aji Lawan, former Borno State governor and senator, while one located at Hadaeq Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, valued at $1.16 million, belongs to Ashe Ahmadu Muazu, wife of a former PDP chairman.

One property was traced to Christabel Bentu, a former special assistant to one-time governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye.

Two properties were traced to Isa Mahmoud Nuhu, a Nigeria Customs Service (NIS) senior official. One property is estimated at $553,802.

Two properties were traced to Salisu Abdullahi Yushau, a former senior officer of the Nigerian Air Force.

A flat at Marsa Dubai, valued at $590,807, was traced to Mohammed Sidi Sani, former director-general of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), who was sacked in April 2023 with seven of the agency’s directors. The property is valued at $590,807.

A Marsa Dubai property valued at $3.093 million is linked to Hadiza Ali Sheriff, wife of former Borno State governor.

One real estate is linked to Nenadi Esther Usman, Nigeria’s former finance minister, while another property was traced to Bobboi Bala Kaigama, former Trade Union Congress (TUC) president.

Seven properties are linked to Ibrahim Folorunsho Jimoh, senator representing Ondo South, while five belong to Ike Ekweremadu, former deputy Senate president, who is serving a jail term in the United Kingdom.

One property is linked to Orji Uzor Kalu, former Abia State governor and now senator, while another was traced to Jeremiah Useni, former military governor of old Bendel State.

A real estate estimated at $101,793.37 at Jabal Ali First belongs to Osita Ben Chidoka, former aviation minister, while another real estate asset is linked with Olisa Metuh, former PDP spokesman.

A property at Marsa Dubai is owned by Abdulsalami Alhali Abubakar, Nigeria’s former head of state. A property valued at $1.025 million is owned by Hassan Ardo Tukur, former principal secretary to President Goodluck Jonathan.

A property at Marsa Dubai was traced to Adeyemi Sabitun Ikuforiji, former speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly. Another property is owned by Dan Etete (Dauzia Loya Etete), Nigeria’s former petroleum minister.

BusinessDay clarifies that this is not an indictment on the names listed, as there is no evidence that the individuals acquired the properties with stolen or public funds.

Findings showed that some Nigerian male property registrants listed their address as Puerto Rico.

Similarly, some male Nigerians were also registered as female.

Dubai property growth

Dubai’s real estate market is outperforming global hotspots such as New York, London and Hong Kong. It grew 20.43 percent in the first quarter of 2024, says the Q1 2024 UAE Market Overview Report.

On a quarterly basis, Dubai residential property prices rose by 6.12 percent (5.57 percent inflation-adjusted) within the period. Transactions over the quarter reached $31.5 billion, official data says.

The 2024 market size of the Dubai property is estimated at $710 billion, Statista says.

“Dubai remains one of the world´s most attractive investment destinations due to its stable economy, strong financial fundamentals, and ability to constantly find new opportunities for growth,” said Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of Dubai Executive Council, reported by the Global Property Guide.

Dubai’s Thriving Real Estate Market

Dubai’s property market is experiencing significant growth.

The market is estimated to be worth $710 billion in 2024.

Dubai attracts foreign investors due to its stable economy and business-friendly environment.

Capital Flight and Corruption Concerns

Some analysts worry about capital flight from Nigeria to Dubai’s real estate market.

There are concerns that Dubai’s secrecy and lack of enforcement enable money laundering from corruption.

Experts suggest Nigeria improve its own real estate sector to attract investment.