A picture of lottery balls to illustrate the story. Photo Credit: JOEL SAGET / AFP

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has restrained the State Government and his Ogun State Counterpart from disrupting the business of lottery companies.

Justice Mohammed Idris on Wednesday held that it would be illegal to shut down lottery businesses on the basis that they have not obtained additional licenses from the two states’ after having been earlier licenced by the Federal Government.

He also restrained the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Commissioners of Police in Lagos and Ogun, 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 licenses.

The plaintiffs, Western Lotto Nigeria Limited and Wesco Pools and Lottery Limited, had asked 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 (NLRC).

The respondents are the Lagos and Ogun states Attorneys-General; the Lagos State Lottery Board, the Ogun State Internal Revenue Service, the IGP, commissioners of Police in Lagos and Ogun, the EFCC and the DSS .

In his judgment, Justice Idris dismissed the defendants’ objections and made “a declaration 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.”

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The judge also held that having 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..”

Justice Idris granted an order restraining the defendants or their agents from disrupting the plaintiffs’ business in any manner having been given national licenses pursuant to the National Lottery Act of 2005.

The plaintiffs, in a supporting affidavit, said a tussle over supremacy between the states and the NLRC was resolved by two earlier judgments of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

“Both decisions were arrived at on the basis that the National Lottery Act had covered the field and the states’ legislation on the same subject must give way,” the plaintiffs said.

According to them, despite the judgments, the defendants had been “threatening” to use the Police, DSS and EFCC “to carry out raids on the business premises of the plaintiffs in Lagos and Ogun states and take other action designed to disrupt their lottery businesses”.

Justice Idris held that the two judgments were still subsisting.





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