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Binance executive may die of malaria in Kuje prison – lawyer cries out

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Aluko and Oyebode, the law firm handling the case of Binance Holdings Limited, says Mr Tigran Gambaryan, the cryptocurrency firm’s executive, standing trial alongside the company in Nigeria, may die in Kuje Correctional Centre.

The law firm stated this in a letter addressed to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court (FHC) and signed by a partner, C.J. Caleb.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the letter, dated and filed on May 23, which was sighted on Sunday, was titled: “Re: Charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/128/2024 – Application for the Provision of Medical Treatment to Tigran Gambrayan at Nizamiye Hospital.”

Caleb said, “We continue to act as counsel to Mr. Tigran Gambaryan, the 2nd defendant in the captioned suit pending before the Honourable Justice E. Nwite sitting at Court 9 of the Federal High Court, Abuja.”

He said Gambaryan, the Head of Financial Crimes Compliance of the cryptocurrency platform, broke down on Wednesday (May 22) in prison and was administered “Intravenous (IV) treatment for malaria” by the medical personnel.

“Please be informed that the 2nd defendant, who is an American citizen and remanded at the Kuje Medium Correctional Facility is very ill and requires comprehensive medical attention at the best available hospital within the jurisdiction of this honourable court.

“The applicant broke down yesterday and the medical facility gave him Intravenous (IV) treatment for malaria,” he said

The lawyer, therefore, raised the alarm over Gambaryan’s continuous remand in the correctional facility, expressing fear for his life amidst his alleged deteriorating health.

“The Consul Officer at the United States Consul Office in Abuja, emphasised the need for the applicant to receive comprehensive treatment because malaria is a severe disease for American citizens which can result in death because they do not have the immunity that ordinary Nigerians have against the disease,” he said in the letter.

Caleb, who said the defendant equally suffered from a throat infection, added that “the Kuje Medium Correctional Facility is currently undergoing renovation works.”

“It is therefore not best suited for the medical treatment of the applicant,” he said.

According to him, given the above, we humbly apply that the applicant be transferred to Nizayime Hospital, Abuja to receive comprehensive diagnoses and treatment for the preservation of his Ife.

“We kindly request that this application be drawn to the attention of the court.

“We look forward to a favourable consideration,” he said.

NAN observes that the letter came six days after Justice Emeka Nwite of an FHC declined to grant Gambaryan’s bail application moved by a lawyer in the defence team, Mark Mordi, SAN.

Justice Nwite had held that based on the affidavit evidence before him, Gambaryan would jump bail if the application was granted.

The judge held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had overwhelming evidence against the applicant that he was a flight risk.

Justice Nwite ordered him to remain in remand throughout the hearing and determination of the alleged money laundering and terrorist financing charges.

NAN reports that on Thursday when the matter came up, the ailing Gambaryan collapsed in the open court over alleged ill-health.

The development occurred shortly after the matter was called for trial continuation before Justice Nwite.

His lawyer, Mr Mordi, explained to the court why his client could not stand as soon as the matter was called.

Mordi said Gambaryan had been indisposed and a written application letter had been filed to notify the court of his failing health.

The lawyer, who sought an adjournment, also prayed for an order, directing the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) to release his client’s medical examination conducted some days ago.

Although the EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho, did not oppose giving Gambaryan proper medical attention, he opposed to a plea that the court should specifically direct the NCoS to take him to Nizayime Hospital.

The lawyer also said that the NCoS should also ensure that Gambaryan was well secured to guard against escaping from the hospital.

In his ruling, the judge said: “An order of this honourable court is hereby made that the 2nd defendant be allowed to be treated in Nizayime Hospital or any other hospital within the jurisdiction which the Correctional Service Centre deems fit provided the Correctional Service Authority shall provide adequate security for the 2nd defendant within the period the 2nd defendant stays in the hospital.”

He also ordered the NCoS to make available the result of the medical examination to parties in the charge.

Justice Nwite subsequently adjourned the matter until June 20 and June 21 for cross-examination of the 1st prosecution witness (PW1) and a Director with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Abdulkadir Abbas.

It would be recalled that Abbas had, on May 17, revealed how Binance breached the Nigerian law, and operated naira peer-to-peer services in exchange for crypto assets to devalue the Nigerian currency.

The witness, who is a Director of Registration, Exchanges, and Market Infrastructure Department at SEC, disclosed this while testifying before the judge.

NAN reports that the EFCC had sued Binance Holdings Limited and Gambaryan as 1st and 2nd defendants.

In the five-count charge, Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan Regional Manager for Africa of the company, was listed as being at large.

They were accused to have allegedly conspired amongst themselves to conceal the origin of the financial proceeds of their alleged unlawful activities in Nigeria including $35,400, 000.

They were alleged to have committed the offence contrary to Section 21 (a) and punishable under Section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, among others.

However, Anjarwalla escaped from lawful custody on March 22 and fled Nigeria to Kenya.

NAN equally reported that the alleged tax evasion four-count charge filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against Binance Holdings Limited and Gambaryan could not proceed on Wednesday due to his absence in court.

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Rivers crisis: Caretaker chairs denied access to offices as police barricade LGA secretariats

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Officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) have continued to barricade the 23 LGA headquarters of Rivers state.

On Tuesday, the Rivers police command announced the take over of the council headquarters following clashes between supporters of Siminalayi Fubara, governor of Rivers, and Nyesom Wike, his predecessor.

The crisis ensued after youths stormed the LGA secretariats to dislodge the elected chairpersons, whose tenure ended on Monday.

Following the expiration of the chairpersons’ tenure, Fubara ordered the heads of local government administration to immediately assume control of the 23 council areas of the state.

Despite the governor’s directive, some of the former LGA chairpersons reportedly attempted to resume duty at the council secretariat, but they were chased away by youths.

During the clash at Eberi-Omuma community in Okuama LGA, a police officer and one vigilante member were killed.

On Wednesday, Fubara swore in the caretaker committee chairpersons for the 23 LGAs.

Some of the caretaker chairpersons could not access the council offices because armed police officers remained stationed at the LGA headquarters.

Speaking in an interview on Channels Television on Wednesday, Darlington Orji, caretaker committee chairman of Ikwere LGA, said after the swearing-in ceremony, he could not access the council because it was barricaded by police officers.

Orji said the police officers said they were acting on the orders of Kayode Egbetokun, inspector-general of police.

Over the past few months, Rivers has been engulfed in political crisis due to the rift between Fubara and Wike.

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FG busts 1,618 civil servants with fake employment letters

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The Federal Government has announced that over the past year, it has identified 1,618 civil service officers with fake employment letters and removed them from the Integration Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS).

Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, the Head of the Federation’s civil service, revealed this during a media briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, June 19.

The event was part of the 2024 Civil Service Week, themed “Education an African fit for the 21st Century: Building Resilient Education System for Increased Access to Inclusive Lifelong, Quality and Relevant Learning in Africa.”

Dr. Yemi-Esan explained that through physical verification conducted by various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), the previously inflated federal civil service workforce has been reduced from over 100,000 to 69,308 verified employees now on the payroll.

She also mentioned that besides discovering ghost workers with fake employment letters, the verification exercise caught some civil servants who had left the country for better overseas opportunities.

These individuals returned for the verification process weeks later, claiming they were unaware of the schedule, and were given an additional two weeks to complete their verification.

According to the Nigerian Tribune, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation said instead of waiting for the two weeks in addition to the days they had already spent in Nigeria, “a lot of them tendered their resignation letters because no UK organisation would afford to give two additional weeks in the country to perfect the verification process.”

Regarding the widespread corruption in the public service, Yemi-Esan stated that her office has been collaborating with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to eradicate corruption from the system.

She also highlighted efforts to enhance the Federal Civil Service for better and more efficient service delivery to Nigerians, expressing confidence that the entire service would be fully digitised by the end of 2025.

Yemi-Esan revealed that the current administration has made significant strides in transforming and digitising work processes.

“From the service-wide perspective, all MDAs, all other ministries are also running with the digitalisation programme and there are different stages of implementation, but they have a mandate for all to achieve full migration by the end of 2025,” she said.

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Sanwo-Olu pledges to arrest Fouani brothers’ kidnappers, assures Lagosians of enhanced security

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has vowed to arrest the perpetrators behind the recent kidnapping of three Lebanese nationals, including Muhammed Fouani, the Managing Director of Fouani Nigeria Limited.

The Governor emphasized that his administration would not tolerate individuals with malicious intentions in the state.

He reassured Lagos residents, particularly business owners and religious tourists, that stringent security measures are being implemented to ensure their safety.

These assurances were contained in an official statement by Gboyega Akosile, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Lagos State Governor, on the Lagos State Government’s website on Wednesday.

“Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday vowed to arrest perpetrators behind the recent kidnapping of the three Lebanese nationals, including the Managing Director of Fouani Nigeria Limited, Muhammed Fouani, saying his government would not condone people of evil intentions in the State.

“He assured Lagos residents, particularly business owners and religious tourists, of adequate security in the state, saying his administration is committed to making the State peaceful, attractive and homely,” the statement read in part.

Furthermore, Governor Sanwo-Olu clarified that the kidnapping of three Lebanese nationals occurred on the waterway en route to Ikorodu, not around Five Cowry in Falomo as reported in the media.

He assured the public that authorities are actively pursuing the kidnappers and taking decisive actions to apprehend them.

The Governor emphasized that security forces are thoroughly combing all necessary areas to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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