Speculations grow as FBI director’s visit coincides with Binance executive partial freedom, Tinubu US court verdict

SPECULATIONS are rife on and off the internet as the visit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director, Mr Christopher Asher Wray, coincides with the Abuja court discharge of a Binance executive, Mr Tigran Gambaryan, and a United States’ verdict on the release of President Bola Tinubu’s records by its security agencies.

The FBI’s director visited President Tinubu in Abuja on Friday, during which Mr Tinubu said Wray’s visit conveyed the importance of Nigeria and Nigerian partnership in the work of America’s law enforcement institutions.

A statement released by the Presidency on the State House website quoted Mr Tinubu as saying that the visit was “a recognition of what stage we are at, who we are and the level of interest both countries share in eliminating crimes locally and globally.”

READ ALSO: Amid Binance crisis, FTX chief sentenced to 25 years in jail for stealing $8bn

”We cannot achieve this important feat of eliminating crimes without collaboration. Incidentally, as the Chairman of ECOWAS, Nigeria is also collaborating with other West African countries to fight economic and other related crimes,” Mr Tinubu said.

In his remarks, Mr Wray said he was in Nigeria to enhance the partnership existing between the government of Nigeria and the government of the United States.

The FBI director said he appreciated Mr Tinubu’s “vision in countering terrorism in the region, which is a dangerous threat, not only to the countries in the region but also to the United States.”

”We appreciate your vision in re-engineering the role of the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) to effectively coordinate efforts on counter-terrorism, and this has already started to bear fruits in terms of the success you are recording against ISIS in West Africa and other terrorist groups.

”I want to assure you of our support whether it is on counter-terrorism, cyber-enabled crimes, kidnapping, joint investigations, and intelligence sharing. Our relationship with Nigeria is a very important one,” the FBI director further said.

Court drops charges against Binance executive

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, dropped the tax evasion charge against an executive of Binance Holdings Limited, Mr Gambaryan,.

READ ALSO: Police Intimidation: Tinubu sacks Solomon Arase after ICIR petition, Economy Post story

The charge was preferred against the company and the executive by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The Presiding Judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, discharged and struck out Mr Gambaryan’s name from the four counts after FIRS’ counsel, Mr Moses Ideho, had filed fresh amended charges naming Binance as the sole defendant.

In spite of this, Mr Gambaryan will continue facing the money laundering charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

However, this is already raising eyebrows, forcing many Nigerians into thinking that the detained Binance executive, who is US citizen, might be freed any moment from now.

Mr Gambaryan and his fleeing colleague, Nadeem Anjarwalla, are being charged for money laundering and tax evasion.

Mr Anjarwalla escaped custody in Nigeria on March 25 and fled to Kenya. Punch reported that Kenya Police Service has arrested him and he may be extradited to Nigeria by the International Criminal Police Organization.

Tinubu’s records

People’s Gazette reported that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C, had fixed a new date for a motion advancement on a case involving the release or withholding of President Bola Tinubu’s records by its security agencies – the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The case was filed in 2022 by an anti-corruption campaigner, Mr Aaron Greenspan, and a Nigerian journalist, Mr David Hundeyin. They both submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the FBI to turn over Mr Tinubu’s case files under their control in relation to the president’s role in a narcotics-trafficking that led to his forfeiting $460,000 to the U.S. government in 1993.

The request has been unsuccessful as Mr Tinubu has insisted that he would be severely affected by the release of his records.

However, on June 6, Judge Beryl Howell of the Columbia district asked Mr Greenspan and Mr Tinubu to turn in their joint status report latest by September 3 in furtherance of the matter.

“Upon consideration of the parties’ joint status report, directing the parties to submit another joint status report by September 3, 2024, advising the court whether any disputes remain between the parties, and if so, proposing a schedule to govern further proceedings,” Ms Howell said.

Sixteen US lawmakers petition Biden over Gambaryan

Sixteen members of the United States House of Representatives, on June 6, petitioned President Joe Biden, demanding the return of the detained Binance executive, Mr Gambaryan, to the United States from Nigeria, Channels TV reported.

READ ALSO: Ten months after grabbing power, Tinubu wobbles on security, leaves economy in tatters

“On behalf of Mr. Gambaryan, his family, and concerned Americans, we, the undersigned, urgently request and strongly encourage the transfer of his case to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs,” the Congress members wrote as seen in Fox Business correspondent Eleanor Terrett’s X (formerly Twitter)’s handle.

The lawmakers described Gambaryan as a “U.S. citizen wrongfully detained by a foreign government,” saying his detention was “marked by excessive and harsh treatment.”

Nigerians divided on the matter

Nigerians are discussing the developing but are mostly divided on it. While some connected the dots and insisted that there was a hand of Esau in the whole matter, others dismissed it as mere speculation.

“Oh, it is a mere speculation. Let us not make mountain out of a molehill,” said a Lagos-based political analyst, Mr Uade Idemudia.

“Such visits are regular for top security agents and government representatives,” he added.

Mr Idemudia’s position was supported by Mr Opeyemi Adeyemi, an Abuja-based businessman, who dismissed the links as “handiwork of detractors.”

“President Bola Tinubu does not have anything to hide,” he said. “Detractors are bringing up irrelevant issues to distract him, but he is focused.”

However, several others have raised questions over the coincidence.

“I don’t trust the United State on matters like this.” said a Kaduna State-based security analyst, Mr Audu Mohammed.”On international politics, there are only few coincidences. Why would a charge suddenly be dropped for a Binance official who has been held for several weeks? Two, why is this happening at a point when a judge has fixed a date for Tinubu’s case in Chicago to be heard and when US lawmakers are mounting pressure on Tinubu to release their citizen?

READ ALSO: Tinubu’s Lagos magic spreads hunger, dollar hits N1825

”I believe something is being negotiated here: I will release your citizen (Binance executive) while you keep my documents away from the opposition

This point was re-echoed by a university lecturer of politics, Dr Chinwe Onyewuche, who simply saw that as “part of the negotiation.”

“I teach International Diplomacy and can bet that it is part of a diplomatic relationship. Mr Tinubu is alleged to have forfeited $460,000 to the US on a drug-related offense. The FBI and the CIA know this and may be using it against him and , of course, Nigeria.

“You may begin to see the EFCC dropping the money laundering case against Binance in weeks to come. You may also see that the case against Tinubu in Chicago will die anatural death. This is not the first time this kind of thing is happening globally and it won’t be the last time,” she noted

ve something is being negotiated here: I will release your citizen (Binance executive) while you keep my documents away from the oppositionThis point was re-echoed by a university lecturer of politics, Dr Chinwe Onyewuche, who simply saw that as “part of the negotiation.”

“I teach International Diplomacy and can bet that it is part of a diplomatic relationship. Mr Tinubu is alleged to have forfeited $460,000 to the US on a drug-related offense. The FBI and the CIA know this and may be using it against him and , of course, Nigeria.

“You may begin to see the EFCC dropping the money laundering case against Binance in weeks to come. You may also see that the case against Tinubu in Chicago will die a natural death. This is not the first time this kind of thing is happening globally and it won’t be the last time,” she noted

Yakubu Ibrahim
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