Lottery commission advises operators to pay off debts

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Lottery commission advises operators to pay off debts

Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, Director-General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC)
Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, Director-General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC)

The Director-General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, on Thursday advised lottery operators indebted to the Federal Government to pay up or face “stiff sanctions”.

In a statement by Mr Magnus Ekechukwu, Assistant Director, Public Affairs, NLRC, Gbajabiamila was quoted to have given this advice at a meeting with affected lottery operators in Abuja.

At the meeting were those who have failed to comply fully with the terms and conditions of their licenses and operating permits, according to the statement.

According to the director-general, delinquent debtors risked revocation of their licenses as well as arrests and prosecution.

“All operators indebted to the federal government within the lottery industry would be made to cough out all they owe.

“NLRC cannot be found wanting in discharging its mandate, especially in the aspect of revenue generation.

“That the commission has been magnanimous enough to show understanding with you regarding your operational challenges does not mean it will lose sight of its mandate.

“Operators need to understand that they have obligations to the government,” Gbajabiamila said.

The commission, according to him, is under pressure to prove itself against the backdrop of the feeling of underperformance by its supervising bodies.

He emphasised that it would not be business as usual henceforth as erring operators might have their licenses/permits revoked.

He further stated that inter agency synergy with the EFCC, NFIU, NCC, NPF, SCUML, as well as NITDA would help the Commission in realising this objective.

The director-general pointed out that NLRC has carried its licensed operators along for so long as a show of understanding towards their plight including jurisdictional challenges.

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The commission, he said, would therefore not rest on its oars in ensuring that all monies owed to the government were collected on or before Dec. 31st, 2019.

Gbajabiamila said beginning from 2020, NLRC would seek to strengthen its regulatory efforts through a number of measures including forensic audit of all operators financial transactions.

He added that spot checks, data transmission to central monitoring system, monthly vetting of operational record books, and other provisions of the terms and conditions of operators’ licenses and permits would not be left out.

He urged operators to go back with the mindset of making amends where necessary.

For his part, the Legal Adviser to the commission, Tanko Ashang, advised the erring operators to ensure they comply with their respective obligations to the government regarding their remittances.

He said he was seconded to the commission to further advance the mandate of the Attorney General of the Federation and would not hesitate to prosecute defaulters, who fell short from the terms and conditions of their licenses and or permits.

Some of the operators, who spoke at the meeting, listed their operational challenges to include jurisdictional rivalry between the federal and state governments, which they said was affecting their operation.

Others challenges faced by the operators include double taxation among others.

They, however, solicited the support of the commission in overcoming those challenges and pledged compliance to fulfilling their obligations to the vommission and the government.

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