A timeline of Binance's troubles in Nigeria

April 25, 2024
5 min read
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In February 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stopped banks from facilitating crypto-related transactions. This move was known popularly as a ban on crypto in Nigeria.

Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor at the time of the ban, said cryptocurrencies were money out of thin air, expressing his disdain for them.  

New CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, overturned this ban in December 2023, and it seemed Nigeria was about to repair its relationship with crypto, seeing them more than just money out of thin air.

However, in just two months, Nigeria's relationship with crypto companies grew worse than the two years in which crypto was banned, and the world's largest cryptocurrency, Binance, is at the centre of it all.


A timeline of Binance's problems in Nigeria 

Binance has been the centre of Nigeria's recent clampdown on the crypto market. There have been multiple reports about the ongoing back and forth between the crypto exchange and Nigeria.

The crux of these issues is that Binance played a role in the dramatic fall of the naira value for the past six months as its users were manipulating the naira price with its P2P feature.

These issues have led Binance to make significant changes to its platform, affecting many of its users in Nigeria. However, these changes have not ended the squabbles between the exchange and Nigerian authorities.

Here's a timeline of Binance's problems in Nigeria.

February 20, 2024: Binance suspends peer-to-peer activities

On February 20, 2024, Binance suspended P2P trading on its platform. The P2P trading feature allows users to trade crypto for fiat while Binance acts as the middleman, making sure none of the parties get cheated.

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Binance said it suspended the feature because there was significant currency movement, which could be due to abuse of the system.

Many people, however, speculated the Nigerian government was behind the suspension, as it believes Binance played a significant role in the devaluation of the naira.

While Binance did not confirm this, it said, it was "working hand in hand with local authorities, lawmakers, and regulators to be compliant."

February 21, 2024: Binance website blocked in Nigeria

After Binance suspended the P2P feature on February 20, Techpoint Africa reported on February 21, 2024, that there were plans to block crypto websites in Nigeria, and later that day, several crypto websites, including Binance, were not reachable via mobile Internet.

Neither the Nigerian government or Binance gave reasons why the websites were not reachable. However, a report by Premium Times, revealed that Nigeria plans to clampdown Binance and other crypto platforms in the country.

A source from the EFCC said the platform is giving the dollar a fake value against the naira, describing the process as a “sophisticated heist against the Nigerian economy.”

February 28, 2024: Nigeria detains Binance employees.

On February 28, 2024, it was confirmed that two Binance employees had been detained by the Nigerian government.

Tigran Gambaryan, a former Crypto-Focused US Federal Agent who now leads Binance's Criminal Investigation team and Kenyan, Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance's Regional Manager for Africa were invited to have a meeting with the EFCC and Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), but were detained after the meeting.

February 30, 2024: Coalition of crypto exchange owners call for regulatory actions against Binance

On February 30, The Digital Currency Coalition, which consists of leaders of local crypto companies like Quidax, Tradefada, and Onboard called for regulatory actions against Binance and also suspended trading of USDT for naira on their platforms.

March 13, 2024: Nigeria demands data on top 100 Binance users in Nigeria

On March 13, 2024, Nigerian authorities demanded data of the top 100 Binance users in the country.

The data would include their transaction history for the past six months, which the Nigerian government said is important as it was around the time the naira value started receding.

March 25, 2024: Nigeria charges Binance with tax evasion

On Monday March 25, 2024, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) announced tax evasion charges against Binance the Federal High Court in Abuja.

It was a four count charge on tax evasion which included non-payment of value added tax (VAT) and company income tax. The two detained Binance employees, Nadeem and Gambaryan, were also included in the charges against Binance.

March 25, 2024: Nadeem Anjawarlla escapes detention

After he being held for almost a month in a guest house by the office of the national security adviser, Anjarwalla escaped after he was led to a nearby mosque to pray.

Authorities were uncertain how he was able to leave the country given that his British passport with which he entered Nigeria had been seized.

March 26, 2024: FIRS sues Binance for tax evasion

Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) filed tax evasion charges against global Binance saying that it contravened four tax laws — failure to pay company income tax, non-payment of value added tax (VAT), noncompliance with tax return filing obligations, and complicity in assisting its users evade taxes through its platform.

March 28, 2024: Gambaryan and Anjawarlla sues EFCC and NSA

Gambaryan and Anjawarlla sued the EFCC and NSA because they violated their fundamental human right to liberty by detaining him and seizing his travel documents.

Gambaryan requested his immediate release and his travel documents be returned to him immediately. His lawsuit also seek to stop the EFCC and NSA from detaining him from any investigations involving Binance.

April 4, 2024: Binance says employees should not be held responsible in ongoing discussions

After Gambaryan's fifth week in detention, Binance requested he should be excluded from the ongoing saga between the cryptocurrency exchange and the Nigerian government.

According to Binance, Gambaryan has no decision-making authority in the company and "a strict law enforcement professional who is not part of Binance management." 

April 5, 2024: Gambaryan is charged with money laundering

During Gambaryan's court appearance, he was formally charged with laundering over $35 million for the first time since his arrest.

Gambaryan's lawyer, Chukwuka Ikuazo, argued that he was "neither a director, partner nor company secretary" and had no written instructions from Binance to face the charges on its behalf.

April 8, 2024: Gambaryan pleads not guilty

Gambaryan appeared in an Abuja court on four counts of tax evasion and money laundering charges totalling over $35 million and pleaded not guilty. 

April 16, 2024: Nigeria plans to extradite Anjarwalla

Nearly a month after his escape, the Nigerian government confirmed that they had tracked down Anjarwalla in Kenya and were in talks to extradite him.

April 22, 2024: Anjarwalla is arrested in Kenya

According to Punch, Nadeem Anjarwalla was apprehended by the Kenya Police Service and was expected to be extradited to Nigeria within a week by the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL).

April 24, 2024: Kenyan officials debunk Anjarwalla's arrest

After reports that the Nigerian government has confirmed the arrest of Anjarwalla, his wife and Kenyan officials debunk the rerport.

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He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.
He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.
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He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.

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