A luxury mansion co-owned by former Vice Presiden Atiku Abubakar, and his fourth wife, Jennifer Douglas, in the posh neighbourhood of Potomac, Maryland, United States, has been auctioned.
The property gained international notoriety in 2005 after it was searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in connection with a bribery scandal involving disgraced former U.S. Congressman, William Jefferson.
The seven-bedroom cream-coloured single family brick house on 9731 Sorrel Ave, Potomac, Maryland, was originally listed for $3.25 million on Zillow and other online real estate websites on January 25, 2018. It was eventually sold for a pending offer of $2.95 million on February 26, 2018 after an online auction.
A pending offer means a buyer and seller of the property have reached a deal. However, a buyer can still pull out from the deal (which is very unlikely) if they cannot resolve issues like cost of repairs or they cannot get a bank to approve a loan for the purchase of the property.
Atiku and his wife bought the 7,131 square feet house in December 1999 for $1.75 million. Built in 1988, the house was described on Zillow as one of the finest in the tony neighbourhood of Falconhurst, Potomac, where houses are valued between $2 million and $10 million.
The Atikus’ mansion is a colonial-style building that sits in the middle of a 2.3 acres premises of lush green trees. The mansion has a total of 21 rooms, multiple terraces which are said to be ideal for outdoor parties, a pool sauna, a gazebo, a gourmet kitchen and an outdoor swimming pool.
Sources with knowledge of the state of the mansion but who requested not to be named because they did not want to be publicly associated with this story, said the Atikus had not lived in the mansion since the politician left office as vice president in 2007.
One source told PREMIUM TIMES that after 2007, house service staff lived in the mansion for some years, but the place was later locked up, and had remained unoccupied.
Tax records from the Montgomery County, Washington DC, show that Ms. Douglas consistently paid property taxes on the mansion from 1999 to 2016. She, however, is in default of $27,913.77 being that for 2017.
The house was not in foreclosure as it was paid for completely by the Atikus and available records showed that no bank loan was involved in its purchase.
The sale of the mansion was not listed as a public auction, which is an auction done under a court order on behalf of government or its agencies.
There is also no evidence that the sale is connected to the now infamous 2005 case or any other unknown criminal investigations.
Paul Ibe, the spokesperson for the former VP told PREMIUM TIMES the sale of the mansion was voluntary and strictly an investment decision.
“Atiku Abubakar is a successful businessman who has a long history of real estate investments,” Mr. Ibe said in response to an enquiry by this newspaper.
“The U.S. home was simply one of such numerous investments. The home was no longer serving the purpose for which it was bought. Consequently, it has to be put up for sale via open auction, a growing and preferred method of selling high end properties. The proceeds thereof will be deployed to business aimed at creating jobs.”
Atiku has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the Jefferson corruption saga that led to the search of his home.
But the former vice president’s political rivals have always harped on that episode to discredit him.
What is more, the billionaire politician, believed to be nursing a fresh bid to become president of Nigeria in 2019 after several failed attempts, has not travelled to the U.S. for a long time. That has fuelled speculations that he might be avoiding a possible arrest or prosecution.
But in an interview with the BOSS newspaper last December, he explained he had made attempts to visit the U.S. but was turned down for administrative reasons.
“I applied but wasn’t issued a visa. However, they did not decline me categorically either. They’ve only said my application is going through administrative process. It is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not. I’m not running away from America,” he said.