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Report: Binance regional manager escapes custody, flees Nigeria

BY Busola Aro

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Nadeem Anjarwalla, the Binance regional manager for Africa detained in Nigeria, has escaped from the custody of the office of the national security adviser (ONSA).

According to a report by Premium Times on Monday, the Binance executive escaped on March 22, from the Abuja guest house where he and his colleague were detained.

Anjarwalla was said to have escaped after guards on duty led him to a nearby mosque for prayers in the spirit of the ongoing Ramadan fast.

He is believed to have flown out of Abuja using a Middle Eastern airline — but how he got on an international flight despite his British passport, is unknown.

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The report, however, said efforts are being made to unravel his intended destination in a bid to get him back into custody.

Premium Times said an immigration official also confirmed that the Binance executive fled Nigeria on a Kenyan passport.

The official, 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.

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The publication also said the two officials were held at a “comfortable guest house” and allowed many rights, including the use of telephones — a privilege Anjarwalla is believed to have exploited to plot an escape.

When contacted in Sunday night on Anjarwalla’s escape from detention, Zakari Mijinyawa, head of strategic communication at the ONSA, said he would inquire and revert — but the report said he is yet to do so as of press time.

On February 28, two of Binance’s top executives – Anjarwalla, a 37-year-old British-Kenyan and Binance’s regional manager for Africa; and Tigran Gambaryan, a 39-year-old US citizen and Binance’s head of financial crime compliance, were detained by the Nigerian authorities for weeks.

Anjarwalla and Gambaryan had flown into Nigeria but had their passports seized by ONSA.

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On March 12, Anjarwalla was transferred to a local hospital after he fell ill while in detention in Nigeria.

Following the arrest of the two executives as a part a broader clampdown on crypto platforms, a federal high court in Abuja ordered Binance Holdings Limited to provide the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with the comprehensive data or information of all persons from Nigeria trading on its platform.

Binance has also been accused of evading tax, failing to register with the Federal Inland Revenue Service  (FIRS), and charged with a criminal offense.

The federal government had earlier requested at least $10 billion as retribution from Binance for profiting from “its illegal transactions” in Nigeria.

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Bayo Onanuga, the special adviser on information and strategy to President Bola Tinubu, who had disclosed this in an interview with the BBC, said the cryptocurrency platform was causing massive losses for “fixing exchange rates”.

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