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The legal battle between Binance, and Nigerian authorities has taken a new twist. Tigran Gambaryan, a detained Binance executive, has dragged the National Security Adviser (NSA) Nuhu Ribadu and the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to court over an alleged violation of his fundamental rights. Meanwhile, the lawyer representing Nadeem Anjarwalla, the exchange’s regional manager for Africa, has withdrawn his appearance, raising speculations about the runaway executive’s whereabouts.

The saga began when Gambaryan and Anjarwalla visited Nigeria on February 26th to honor an invitation from the ONSA and EFCC to discuss issues related to Binance’s operations in the country. However, what was supposed to be a routine meeting took an unexpected turn when both executives were detained by the authorities after the discussion, resulting in a legal battle.

Even prior to this incident, Binance was already facing four charges related to tax evasion. The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) had filed these charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja. The allegations included failure to pay value-added tax (VAT) and company income tax, failure to file tax returns, and facilitating tax evasion by customers through its platform. The Nigerian government has been closely scrutinizing and criticizing Binance for several weeks, accusing the company of processing potentially illegal funds amounting to billions of dollars and manipulating the exchange rate for the local currency, which has affected the country’s economy.

Binance Executives Filed for Freedom

In a bid to secure their freedom, the executives both filed a suit against the Office of NSA and the EFCC. Gambaryan, through their lawyer, Olujoke Aliyu, filed an originating motion dated March 18th before Justice Inyang Ekwo. The motion sought five reliefs, including a declaration that his detention and seizure of his international travel passport contravened Section 35(1) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution, amounting to a violation of his fundamental right to personal liberty. He also included a demand for the respondents to promptly liberate him from detention and restore his international travel documents without any further delay, which is the same suit Anjarwalla filed for.

Gambaryan’s lawyer argued that his client did not commit any offense during the meeting and was not informed in writing of any offense he had personally committed in Nigeria. The only reason cited for his detention was the government’s request for information from Binance and demands on the company, despite not being a member of the exchange’s Board of Directors.

The court proceedings took a different turn when T.J. Krukrubo, SAN, appeared for both Anjarwalla and Gambaryan. Krukrubo informed the court of their notice of withdrawal of legal representation for Anjarwalla filed on March 26th, though the reasons behind this move were not explicitly stated. This development raised suspicions about Anjarwalla’s whereabouts, with reports suggesting that he may have fled Nigerian custody.

As the legal battle progresses,  Justice Ekwo postponed the case to April 8 due to the applicant lacking legal representation. This decision aimed to provide the applicant with time to secure a lawyer and ensure all parties involved could attend the court hearing.

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