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Tinubu demanded names, transaction details of top 100 Binance users in Nigeria before release of detained executives: Report

Amid the clampdown, Binance exited the Nigerian market and discontinued every naira-related transaction on its platform.

• March 13, 2024
Binance and Tinubu composite
Binance and Tinubu composite

President Bola Tinubu’s government has demanded that the world’s largest cryptocurrency platform, Binance, provide a list of the top 100 Nigerian users and their transaction details on the platform before detained officials are released. 

“Nigeria is pressing Binance for information on its top 100 users in the country, as well as all transaction history for the past six months,” Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

According to the newspaper, the request is at the centre of negotiations between Binance and Nigeria, which sees the company as a crucial link undermining government efforts to stabilise its currency, the naira. The six-month transaction details request tallies with the timeline of Nigeria’s currency devaluation.

The reported request comes as two Binance officials, Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and British-Kenyan Nadeem Anjarwalla, languish in detention two weeks after Nigerian authorities arrested them. 

Two weeks ago, citing FT, Peoples Gazette reported that the two Binance officials invited by the Nigerian government were arrested by the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu. 

Presidential spokespersons Ajuri Ngelale and Bayo Onanuga did not respond to calls or messages seeking comments on the demand.

Also, Binance declined to comment on the request, which would violate users’ privacy, saying, “It is inappropriate for us to comment on the substance of the claims at this time.”

“We can say that we are working collaboratively with Nigerian authorities to bring Nadeem and Tigran back home safely to their families,” Binance told The Gazette on Wednesday.

To save the battered Nigerian naira, which traded for about N2000 to a dollar two weeks ago, Mr Tinubu’s government blocked the Binance website for Nigerian users on claims that the cryptocurrency platform is aiding currency speculators in manipulating the Nigerian exchange rate. 

Amid the clampdown, Binance exited the Nigerian market and discontinued every naira-related transaction on its platform.

On Tuesday, The Gazette reported that the families of Messrs Gambaryan and Anjarwalla raised the alarm over their loved ones being held hostage by the Nigerian government.

Mr Gambaryan’s wife, Yuki, has described the last two weeks as the “hardest days of her life.” She said her two children (a four-year-old and a 10-year-old) have become relentless in asking when daddy will return, a question to which she has no answer.

In 2021, when former President Muhammadu Buhari first banned cryptocurrency in the country, The Gazette reported how then attorney general of the federation Abubakar Malami’s screenshot revealed he had the Binance app on his phone.

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