Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos has restrained Lagos and Ogun State governments from disrupting the business of lottery companies for allegedly operating without the statesâ€™ licences.
The judge gave the order following a suit filed by Western Lotto Nigeria Ltd and Wesco Pools & Lottery Ltd, praying the court to determine whether in view of subsisting and binding judgments of the Federal High Court, the defendants can close down their businesses for not obtaining licenses from the states despite having been granted nationwide permits/licences by the National Lottery Regulatory Commission.
The court held that it would be illegal to shut down lottery businesses on the basis that they have not obtained additional licences having been earlier licenced by the federal government.
Specifically, Justice Idris restrained the Inspector General of Police, Lagos and Ogun State Commissioners of Police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) from arresting lottery operators or sealing up their offices on the basis that they have no state licences.
The respondents are the Lagos and Ogun states Attorneys-General; the Lagos State Lottery Board, the Ogun State Internal Revenue Service, IG, Commissioners of Police in Lagos and Ogun, the EFCC and the DSS.
In his judgment, Justice Idris dismissed the defendantsâ€™ objections and granted the two prayers in the plaintiffsâ€™ originating summons.
â€œI declare that the defendants or any combination of them may not take any steps whatsoever whether by closure, arrests, detentions, sealing off, or howsoever designed, to disrupt, close down or otherwise impede the lottery business of the plaintiffs.
â€œHaving been granted national permits, the defendants cannot close down such businesses for reason that the plaintiffs have not obtained additional license to operate their lottery business.â€
Justice Idris granted an order restraining the defendants or their agents from disrupting the plaintiffsâ€™ business in any manner having been given national licenses pursuant to the National Lottery Act of 2005.
According to the plaintiffs, a tussle over supremacy between the states and the NLRC was resolved by two earlier judgments of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
â€œBoth decisions were arrived at on the basis that the National Lottery Act had covered the field and the statesâ€™ legislation on the same subject must give way,â€ the plaintiffs stated in their supporting affidavit.
They said despite the judgments, the defendants had been â€œthreateningâ€ to use the police, DSS and EFCC â€œto carry out raids on their business premises in Lagos and Ogun States and take other action designed to disrupt their lottery businesses.â€