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Binance Executives Challenge Detention by Nigerian Authorities in Court

Published March 31, 2024
1 months ago

Amidst the clamping down on cryptocurrency operations in Nigeria, two executives from Binance, the world's preeminent cryptocurrency exchange, have found themselves embroiled in a legal tussle with Nigerian authorities. The individuals in question, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, have filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of their detention as well as the seizure of their passports.

This legal dispute unfolds within the broader context of Nigeria grappling with a severe dollar shortage and the subsequent rise of cryptocurrency platforms for trading the Nigerian currency. In what appears to be a swift policy response, Nigeria opted to ban several cryptocurrency trading websites, much to the disarray of the digital currency market in the country.

Gambaryan and Anjarwalla, hailing from the United States and holding British-Kenyan nationality respectively, journeyed to Nigeria as part of Binance's response to the bans. Their arrival on February 26, however, was met with immediate detention. Anjarwalla has since fled Nigeria and may now face an international warrant for his arrest, while Gambaryan has remained to contend with the legal proceedings.

In a federal high court in Abuja, Gambaryan sought the intervention of Judge Iyang Ekwo to obtain relief from what he and his colleague argue is an infringement of their fundamental rights. The petition presented before the court on Thursday emphasized the duo's lack of knowledge regarding any alleged offenses and called for their release, the return of their passports, a formal apology, and an injunction against further detention.

The turn of events that led to the absence of representatives from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) meant that the hearing was adjourned to April 8, with Judge Ekwo withholding judgment until that date.

Crypto enthusiasts, investors, and legal observers are keeping a close eye on this developing situation, which underscores the complex interplay between digital currency markets and national regulatory frameworks.

The outcome of this case may well have far-reaching implications for the operations of cryptocurrency exchanges within Nigeria and possibly across the African continent, where the adoption and regulation of digital currencies continue to present a dynamic challenge for all stakeholders involved.

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