James Emejo in Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Governmental Affairs yesterday threatened to direct the withdrawal of the operating licences for 18 lottery operators in the country for failing in their financial obligations to government.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Suleiman Hussaini Kangiwa (APC, Kebbi) said during an interactive session with officials of the Nigeria Lottery Regulatory Commission and lottery operators that available records showed that out of the 21 licenced lottery operators in the country, only about three are up-to-date in their payment of fees and other taxes to government.
Describing the situation as unacceptable, the lawmaker said the House would not hesitate to take decisive action by invoking their relevant constitutional powers against those affected.
The lawmakers further threatened to issue arrest warrant against some of the operators that failed to honour the invitation for the interactive session.
Kangiwa said: â€œWeâ€™re very much aware of the 21 licensed operators in Nigeria, but only two are remitting something to the government. Itâ€™s very unfortunate. Nigerians and this committee are disappointed in you, because after getting licence and money, you donâ€™t give the government anything.
â€œWe expect the Nigeria Lottery Commission to become one of the front liners in revenue generation. As at now, their revenue is less than N1 million. This is the time that the government needs the money. Itâ€™s either you obey the rules or we order for the licences to be withdrawn. We have to work as partners in progress.
The committee, as a result requested the operator provide demanded their approved licence, evidence of all fees paid to the commission from 2000-2017, the evidence of remittance to the lottery fund for the same period, valid office and business addresses, nature and the type of games play, list of winners and total amount generated, copies of annual report of account from 2014-date.
â€œYou have one week from today to submit all the above,â€ he said.
The acting Director General of the commission, Lanre Gbajabiamila, said: â€œEver since I resumed office for about two months now, Iâ€™ve met with the operators. I listened to each and every one of them individually to know why theyâ€™ve been lagging behind in terms of their obligations.
â€œThe feedback I got, as much as discouraging, I must say I understand with them. There were some challenges before I came, but that doesnâ€™t mean they should meet their obligations.â€
The operators, one after the other, listed their challenges, with most of them saying multiple taxation and low revenue have been their major setback.
The committee, nevertheless, promised to look into all the issues raised with a view to finding lasting solutions.