Binance executives sue Nigerian authorities over rights violation

Two senior executives from Binance have filed a lawsuit against against Nigeria’s national security adviser’s office and its anti-corruption agency, alleging violations of their fundamental rights.

The executives have petitioned the court for their release, escalating the dispute between the cryptocurrency giant and Nigerian authorities.

Tigran Gambaryan, an American who serves as Binance’s head of financial crime compliance, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a dual citizen of the UK and Kenya and the exchange’s regional manager for Africa, traveled to Nigeria in response to the country’s clampdown on cryptocurrency trading platforms. Upon their arrival on February 26, they were detained.

The situation intensified when Anjarwalla left Nigeria last week and is now facing an international arrest warrant. Interestingly, his British passport, which he used to enter Nigeria, remains in the custody of Nigerian authorities. This has raised questions about how he managed to leave the country using a Kenyan passport without having any other travel documents while in detention.

Gambaryan, on the other hand, appeared in a Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on Thursday. He sought a declaration from Judge Iyang Ekwo that his detention and the confiscation of his passport by the National Security Adviser and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) constituted a breach of his constitutional right to personal liberty.

The executives claim they were not briefed on any specific allegations against them. Their legal demands include an order for their immediate release, the return of their passports, a public apology, and a court injunction to prevent further detention.

The hearing, however, was delayed to April 8, as attorneys representing the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the EFCC were absent from the proceedings.

The detention of Anjarwalla and Gambaryan followed a criminal complaint received by a magistrate court in Abuja, leading to their custody since their arrival in Nigeria on February 26. The court then authorized the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to detain both individuals for 14 days, later extending this period after Binance reportedly failed to comply with a court order demanding access to data on Nigerian traders on its platform.

Nigeria has made a formal request to Binance demanding details on its top 100 users in the country and a comprehensive transaction history spanning the past six months.