Detained Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan sues for compensation, wife asks for US intervention

David Afolayan
Gambaryan claims his detention violated his rights and was used to pressure Binance, causing hardship to his family….
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Tigran Gambaryan

Detained Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan has petitioned an Abuja Federal High Court to order the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) of Nigerian and its anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to pay compensation costs for his prolonged detention in the country.

This was contained in a statement made before the court by his lawyer, Tonye Krukrubo SAN during a proceeding yesterday to determine judgement in a fundamental rights suit filed on behalf of escaped colleague, Nadeem Anjarwalla at the same court. This follows an amendment to an original motion to enforce his fundamental human rights, which was filed in May.

Gambaryan claims his detention violated his rights and was used to pressure Binance, causing hardship to his family.

In his grounds of application, Krukrubo explained to the court that his client visited Nigeria in February solely to honour the invitation of the NSA and the EFCC for a meeting with government officials as representatives of Binance. He added that his client was detained afterwards and has not been released despite not being a board member of Binance.

The lawyer, therefore, urged the court to declare his detention and the seizure of his international travel passport as a violation of his fundamental right to personal liberty guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. He also asked the court to perpetually restrain the security agencies from further detaining him for any investigation into the activities of the cryptocurrency exchange platform.

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Tigran Gambaryan sits as he waits to face prosecution for tax evasion and money laundering at the federal high court in Abuja, Nigeria April 4, 2024. REUTERS/ Abraham Achirga

EFCC’s counsel Olanrewaju Adeola urged the court to hold that the application for amendment is incompetent and should be refused with a heavy cost. After hearing the parties, the judge overruled the EFCC counsel and directed Gambaryan’s lawyer to serve the amended motion on the respondents within two days.

The judge ordered the applicant to pay the respondents N50,000 for the cost of the processes they filed in the initial fundamental rights suit. He also adjourned the hearing on the case till June 19.

Meanwhile, Tigran’s wife, Yuki Gambaryan has called on the government of the United States to intervene more forcefully in the lingering detention and prosecution. “Tigrans and my tax dollars get sent to Nigeria in aid every year. Nigeria is supposed to be an ally. I refuse to believe that our State Department cannot do more to have an innocent American citizen released”, she said in a statement shared with Technext.

According to her, It is time for the Nigerian authorities to do the right thing and let her “innocent husband” go. “Since the FIRS charges were dropped last week and they agreed to serve those charges solely on Binance, I do not see why the EFCC cannot do the same”, she added.

Similar: Court strikes out escaped Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla’s fundamental rights suit

Unlike Tigran, the court stroke out Nadeem Anjarwalla’s fundamental right suit

Recall that the Federal High Court, yesterday, struck out a fundamental rights suit filed against the Office Of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by escapee Binance Executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla.

Binance: Nigerian Government continues to detain 2 employees despite court ruling
Nadeem Anjarwalla and Tigran Gambaryan

Presiding over the case, Justice Inyang Ekwo delivered a verdict on the suit after Anjarwalla’s legal team failed to appear during the proceedings. The judge emphasized that despite the case being scheduled for mention there was no representation for the applicant.

Anjarwalla who escaped lawful custody on March 22 and reportedly fled to Kenya, and his colleague Tigran Gambaryan had initiated separate legal action (suits marked FHC/ABJ/CS/355/24 and FHC/ABJ/CS/356/24) alleging that their detention and seizure of his international travel passport violated Section 35 (1) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution (As amended).

“The continued detention of the Applicant by the Respondents is causing immense hardship and emotional stress on the Applicant, his wife and children and other members of his family,” the application stated.

Justice Ekwo struck out the fundamental rights case “for want of diligent prosecution.” The Court has fixed July 9 for a hearing on Gambaryan’s suit.

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