A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party and owner of Western Lotto has vowed to fight to the finish over the right obtained to operate Ghana-based game in Nigeria.
Western Lotto has been contending with Premier Lotto, owned by billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Sir Kessington Adebutu, and other lottery and betting game operators in Nigeria.
The battle between the companies over the rights to a Ghana-based game, leading to a N500bn suit, is now being resolved by the House of Representatives.
The Nigerian Licensed Lottery Operators’ Forum had backed Premier Lotto against Western Lotto.
Western Lotto had, however, proposed an out-of-court settlement which the NLLOF and the NLRC have faulted.
Kashamu, in a message to the Director-General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, which was forwarded to our correspondent, alleged that those opposing the terms of agreement proposed by Western Lotto were those short-changing the Federal Government of its due revenue from the sector.
Kashamu copied the Presidency; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Executive Secretary, National Lottery Trust Fund, Bello Maigari; Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; National Assembly; and the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume.
“The ongoing process for settlement of agreement is lawful. I’m convinced this will allow heavy revenue for the government and sanitise the lottery industry and help more promoters generate profit, instead of allowing two operators to continue to illegally short-change the government and use all revenue for themselves. I’m willing and ready to fight this to the end until justice is served in the interest of all,” Kashamu stated.
Kashamu pointed out that the settlement agreement being proposed by Western Lotto was in consonance with the guideline of the NLRC and co-signed by the operators while obtaining their licences.
The PDP chieftain said the guideline indicated that 24.5 per cent net proceeds should be paid to the commission, which he said other operators had been paying till date.
He said, “While some people haven’t been paying or short-changing the government by paying a manipulated percentage of one per cent, those who continue to short-change the government feel that the Ghana game is not officially represented by anybody in Nigeria, therefore there is no need to declare or pay any tax to the commission or pay royalty to the owners of the game.”
The House of Representatives had begun its intervention in the crisis on Tuesday. Its committee on Inter-Governmental Affairs had met with stakeholders in the industry in Abuja, asking that a new date be fixed pending the time the panel would study the submissions made to it.
At the hearing were representatives of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission and Nigerian Licensed Lottery Operators’ Forum as well as various lottery firms. Premier Lotto was represented by Ajibola Adebutu and Adebisi Adebutu, while Western Lotto was represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Usman Tajudeen; and Managing Director, Olumide Adedeji.
The House had on March 18, 2020, resolved to intervene in the crisis.
The resolution to settle the rift was based on a motion moved by a member of the House, Akin Alabi, who equally owns a sports betting company, NairaBet, and is incidentally the chairman of the committee.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had gone after Premier Lotto based on a petition by Western Lotto, alleging crimes ranging from tax fraud to economic sabotage. The Kashamu-owned company had also petitioned the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Western Lotto had also dragged the National Lottery Regulatory Commission and 24 lottery operators, including Premier Lotto, before a Federal High Court over alleged infringement against its intellectual property rights to a gaming product known as ‘Ghana Games.’
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