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Binance executive reportedly escapes from custody in Nigeria

Amid the standoff between the Nigerian government and Binance, a cryptocurrency platform, one of the two executives detained over alleged tax evasion and other offences, Nadeem Anjarwalla, has reportedly escaped from custody in Nigeria.

Sources familiar with the matter disclosed this to Premium Times.

Anjarwalla reportedly escaped from custody on March 22, 2024, from the Abuja guest house, where he and his colleague, Tigran Gambaryan, were detained after guards on duty led him to a nearby mosque for prayers in the spirit of the ongoing Ramadan fast.

The Briton, who also has Kenyan citizenship, is believed to have flown out of Abuja using a Middle East airliner.

It remains unclear how Anjarwalla got on an international flight despite his British passport, with which he entered Nigeria, remaining in the custody of the Nigerian authorities.

Authorities are also said to be working to unravel his intended destination to get him back into custody.

An Immigration official said the Binance executive fled Nigeria on a Kenyan passport. He, however, said authorities were trying to determine how he obtained the passport, given that he had no other travel document (apart from the British passport) on him when he was taken into custody.

Another source said the two officials were held at a “comfortable guest house” and allowed many rights, including telephones, a privilege Anjarwalla is believed to have exploited to plot an escape.

Meanwhile, the Head of Strategic Communication at the Office of the National Security Adviser, Zakari Mijinyawa, has yet to react to the development.

Anjarwalla, Binance’s Africa regional manager, and Gambaryan, a US citizen overseeing financial crime compliance at the crypto exchange platform, were detained upon their arrival in Nigeria on February 26 2024, to negotiate with the government the firm’s restrictions.

However, a criminal charge was filed against the two executives before a Magistrate Court in Abuja. On February 28 2024, the court granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, an order to remand the duo for 14 days. The court also ordered Binance to provide the Nigerian government with data/information on Nigerians trading on its platform.

Following Binance’s refusal to comply with the order, the court extended the remand of the officials for an additional 14 days to prevent them from tampering with evidence. The court then adjourned the case till April 4 2024.

Also, on March 22, the Nigerian government approached the Federal High Court in Abuja. It slammed another four-count charge on Binance Holdings Limited, Mr Anjarwalla and Mr Gambaryan, accusing them of offering services to subscribers on their platform while failing to register with the Federal Inland Revenue Service to pay all relevant taxes administered by the Service and in so doing, committed an offence, contrary to and punishable under Section 8 of the Value Added Tax Act of 1993 (as Amended).

The defendants were also accused of offering taxable services to subscribers on their trading platform while failing to issue invoices to those subscribers to determine and pay their value-added taxes and, in so doing, committed an offence contrary to and punishable under S.29 of the Value Added Tax Act of 1993 (as amended).

Recall that trouble started for Binance when it was restricted from operating in the Nigerian cyberspace from February 21, 2024.

The development led to Binance discontinuing its services on Naira from March 8.

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Business

NAFDAC seals popular Supermarket in Ibadan

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) has sealed a popular groceries and cosmetics supermarket, Pinnacle in Dugbe area of Ibadan over sale of fake products.

The supermarket, usually a beehive of activities was now a shadow of itself as the gate leading to the premises was shut with an inscription directing customers to its branch at Challenge.

Management of the supermarket cited technical issues as reason for its closure.

An inside source who pleaded for anonymity however revealed that problem started on Tuesday, 2nd April , 2024 when NAFDAC surveillance team stormed the mall to enforce total shutdown of the premises, thereby forcing shoppers out of the supermarket.

“The NAFDAC team came inside the mall and told us to close, even though people were many inside who wanted to do shopping but they couldn’t because the technical issue started and they all went away in disappointment”, the source said.

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Nigeria oil production drops to 1.231m barrels per day- OPEC

OPEC: Russia-Ukraine war causing volatility in global energy market

Nigeria’s crude oil production suffered its second consecutive monthly decline since the beginning of this year, as it dropped to 1.231 million barrels per day in March, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries has revealed.

OPEC disclosed this in its latest Monthly Oil Market Report for April 2024, stating that crude oil production details which it got through direct communication from Nigeria showed that the country pumped less oil in March compared to February.

Data from the report indicated that Nigeria produced 1.322 million barrels per day of crude in February this year, but this dropped to 1.231mbpd in March, representing a plunge of 91mbpd.

The report further added that the country had produced 1.427mbpd of crude in January, but this was not sustained in February as it dropped in that month, while the southward oil production continued in March.

However, OPEC data showed that Nigeria’s average crude oil production in the first quarter of 2024 was 1.327mbpd, higher than the 1.313mbpd average oil production in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Nigeria’s first quarter oil output in 2024 was also higher than the 1.201mbpd average production in the third quarter of 2023.

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Emirates Airlines to resume Nigeria flights soon – Keyamo

Emirates, UAE, has concluded plans to resume flights with Nigeria.

This followed numerous visits from President Bola Tinubu to UAE over the communication breakdown between both countries.

Featuring on Arise Television on Monday, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, said the Emirates Airline had already indicated its readiness in a letter sent to the Nigerian Government.

Keyamo explained that what transpired during the earlier visit and resolution was not fake but was presented in a ‘hasty’ manner.

He said: “Emirates flight resumption is almost happening. I just received a letter from Emirates. The letter is on my phone now. They have gone through all the gamut and they are ready to come back. They will announce the date because to restart a route, they must get an aircraft for that route.

“I am announcing to Nigerians for the first time; that I just received a letter from Emirates now. The letter is with me. I have a hard copy thanking you for all the efforts we made. Mr President was the showman here. He was the one who pushed for it. He made my job easy because he went there, and had a diplomatic shuttle to resolve all the issues.

“That was why I said the last announcement was hasty and not fake news.

“They will announce the date for their next flight. We have received a letter confirming that all the issues have been resolved and prepared to start coming back. It may be before June.”

Apart from Emirates suspending flights to Nigeria, in 2022, the UAE Immigration Department notified its trade partners and travel agencies that it was stopping visa applications from 22 countries, 20 of which are African nations.

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