11th April, 2017
Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo has written the Inspector General of Police, IGP, over the continuous use of the police to harass lottery operators by the Lagos State Government in Lagos.
Keyamo, in the letter written by his Chamber said a court had stopped the Lagos State Government from harassing lottery operators in the state as the government had no right to collect dues from them.
In the letter, Keyamo said his chamber was writing to draw the IGP’s attention to the clear position of the law regarding the perennial dispute between the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government in respect of the right to regulate, license or invoke the law relating to lottery operations in Nigeria.
“This has become necessary because of the constant harassment and molestation of customers and staff of lottery companies operating in Lagos State by the Lagos State Lottery Board. One of such companies is Mobile Lottery Nig Ltd.
“The raging war between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Lagos State Government over the operation of lottery business in Lagos State has a protracted history. However, as far back as 7th December, 2009 in a case between National Lottery Regulatory Commission and Anor vs Hon. Attorney General of Lagos State in Suit No: FHC/ABC/CS/07, the dispute was submitted clearly for adjudication and the dispute was laid to rest in a judgment delivered by Per A. M. Liman,” he said.
He said in resolving the major question for determination in the suit which was, whether a license granted under the National Lottery Act, 2005 to engage in National or Inter state Lottery business in Nigeria did not entitle the licensee to freely carry on its trade between states and in particular from and into Lagos State without liability to obtain license under the Lagos State Lotteries Law, 2004, the court held that:
“National Lottery Act, 2005 being an Interstate Trade and Commerce, any grantee of a license is free to carry on its trade between states and in particular from and into Lagos State without liability to obtain approval or license from the Lagos State Government.”
According to him, the Lagos State Government appealed against the above judgment and abandoned by the Appeal, it was subsequently struck out.
“However, the Lagos State Government has perfected the act of intimidation and harassment of Lottery operators within the state in an open exhibition of contempt of the order of the court in respect of the issue.
“The illegal activities of Lagos State Lottery Board is being aided by the men and officers of the Nigeria Police Force who have provided the Lagos State Agency the necessary tools of intimidation and harassment by way of illegal arrest and detention of the holders of National Lottery Regulatory Commission License.
“In a recent brutal operation of the Lagos State Lottery Board, one of our clients, Mobile Lottery Nigeria Limited’s (a Lottery Operator in Lagos with National Lottery Board’s License) business was greatly disrupted by the carting away of its properties and the arrest and detention of its staff.
“It is based on the foregoing that we ask you to use your good offices to ensure that the Order of the court is obeyed by mandating your men and officers to desist forthwith from providing the instrument of harassment and/or intimidation to the Lagos State Lottery Board.
“We are of the firm believe that your timely intervention will be of utmost importance in putting a stop to the illegal operation of the Lagos State Lottery Board,” he said.