More than one trillion naira is lost annually by the Nigerian government to activities of illegal lottery operators, Acting Executive Secretary, National Lottery Trust Fund (NLTF), Mr. Bello Maigari, has told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), official news outlet of the Nigerian government.
Maigari, who spoke in Abuja over the weekend, expressed fears that such proceeds are likely being channeled into crimes including fraud and money laundering.
“Nigerian government is losing more than one trillion Naira every year because of illegal operators. There are a lot of illegal operators in the industry and these are part of the reasons why there are leakages.
“Some are conducting this business without being regulated and there are chances that such proceeds will be channeled towards crime, fraud, and of course, money laundering.
Maigari said the country has many unlicensed lottery operators fleecing the government and causing financial leakages as to what they are expected to remit to the trust fund if they were licensed.
“We also have so many operators that are not performing for reasons best known to them; they have decided not to be moribund.
“And we learnt that some of them lease such licences to third parties to operate and through that there is huge leakage and government is losing revenue, particularly in the last 10 years,’’ said Maigari adding that the NLTF was already ‘collaborating with the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) to develop a strong and robust enforcement strategy to curb leakages and enhance remittances.’
By law, lottery operators are required to pay NLTF 20 per cent of their proceeds in the first five years of their operation, said Maigari quoting the National Lottery Act 2005. His words:
“The national lottery Act 2005 section 24, sub section 3 requires an operator to pay to the trust fund at the end of every lottery a percentage of 20 per cent for the first five years of operation.
“Then subsequently 25 per cent, then after 10 years 27.5 per cent, this is the way it is structured.
“We are to use these proceeds to promote good causes for Nigerians in health, sports, water and sanitation and other social services that will impact the social well being of Nigerians.
“But our only challenge is that funds are not coming in as expected’’.
He said part of the strategies the NLTF and the lottery regulator are deploying is the use of an “automated form of collecting proceeds from operators.”