…..hints on possible arrest, prosecution of Operators
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
The National Lottery Regulatory Commission, NLRC has warned erring lottery operators to defray all debts owed to the Federal Government or face stiff sanctions.
Director-General of the Commission, Lanre Gbajabiamila said that such sanctions may include revocation of licenses, as well as arrests and prosecution.
Gbajabiamila read the riot act at a meeting in Abuja between the management of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission and lottery operators, especially those who had failed to comply fully with the Terms and Conditions of their licenses and operating Permits.
A statement by Magnus Ekechukwu, Assistant Director, Public Affairs, NLRC, stated that the Director-General at the meeting attended by several sister regulatory agencies as observers threatened that, “all operators owing the federal government within the lottery industry would be made to cough out all they owe.”
Gbajabiamila said that the NLRC could not be found wanting in discharging its mandate, especially in the aspect of revenue generation.
He pointed the Commission had been magnanimous enough to show understanding with the operators, regarding their operational challenges, but the Commission, in turn, must not lose sight of its mandate nor the operators their obligations to the government.
He said, “Commission has been magnanimous enough to understand with operators, over time, but operators need to understand that they have obligations to government.
“The commission is under pressure to prove itself against the backdrop of the feeling of underperformance by our supervising agencies; it will not be business as usual, henceforth; erring operators may 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 realizing this objective.
He said that the NLRC has carried its licensed operators along for so long as a show of understanding towards their plight including jurisdictional challenges, and would therefore not rest on its oars in ensuring that all monies owed to the government are collected on or before December 31st, 2019.
Continuing, the DG stated that beginning from 2020 the Commission would seek to strengthen its regulatory efforts through a number of measures including forensic audit of all operators financial transactions, spot checks, data transmission to Central Monitoring System, monthly vetting of operational record books, and other provisions of the Terms and Conditions of their licenses and permits.
He urged operators to go back and with the mindset of making amends where necessary.
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; double taxation, etc.
They solicited the support of the commission in overcoming those challenges and pledging compliance to fulfilling their obligations to the Commission and the government.