Nigerian customers of crypto exchange AAX stormed the firm’s Lagos office and harassed employees after the exchange halted withdrawals, a major Nigerian news site reported on Dec. 3.
Although it is unclear when the attack occurred, stakeholders from the Nigerian Blockchain Technology Association (SiBAN) condemned it on November 28. She urged angry users to be patient with exchange staff, who have also been affected by the withdrawal freeze. The SiBAN explained:
“Therefore, we call on all dissatisfied or angry users or investors, AAX Country Manager (Nigeria), other local staff and AAX Ambassadors across the country, please do not harass or bully. These people are also in the same situation as angry users and investors. Communications between these people and AAX HQ are also strained at the moment as far as we know. We therefore ask for understanding and patience from all Nigerian users of ‘AAX.
The AAX drama began on Nov. 14 when the exchange suspended payouts due to a system upgrade issue. AAX assured its community that the payout freeze had nothing to do with the collapse of FTX and denied any connection to the insolvent exchange.
The AAX team said on Nov. 15 that it was scrambling to raise more capital as investors withdrew funds amid fears of further contagion following the FTX bankruptcy. SiBAN commented on this situation:
“Since AAX’s system upgrade came at a time when the collapse of FTX is still having a contagious effect on the entire crypto industry, the timing of the system upgrade of AAX was suspect and questionable from the start, so for many AAX users and the general public, the long update time of the AAX system raises far more questions than answers, and contrary to their promise to provide daily updates on the situation, AAX has so far failed or failed to gain the trust of its users.
The Nigerian association further said that among those affected were also members of the association.
On November 28, Ben Caselin, vice president of global marketing and communications at AAX, resigned from his post. This has led to speculation that the exchange may not resume trading. Despite her efforts to fight for the community, “none of the initiatives we proposed have passed,” Caselin said. Any role I played in the communication became meaningless.”
The former AAX executive also expressed his displeasure with AAX’s handling of its issues, calling it “lacking in empathy” and “too opaque.”