LOTTERY BOSS READS THE RIOT ACT TO ILLEGAL OPERATORS

By NBF News
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Director-General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Peter Igho, is not smiling at all even when his daughter became $200,000 richer at the weekend courtesy of the just concluded controversial Big Brother Amplified reality show. Igho's anger is not unconnected to the fraud going on in the lottery business in the country, which he described as not properly run whereas it is supposed to be a tool used all over the world to raise money for good causes.

While sensitising journalists on the benefits of the lottery scheme, the only DG, who was screened by Senators said: 'Lottery has been confused to mean gambling but it is not. In the United Kingdom, lottery has been used to do a whole lot of good things, even the popular Wembly stadium was built with lottery money and many other good things. I just returned from Morrocco and Niger Republic and saw what lottery money has done in their countries.

They use lottery money to fight desert encroachment, build hospitals, schools, among many others. Unlike gambling where it is only the winner who benefits, nothing for the society. From now on, we are going to enforce the mandate of the commission in its totality because we have lost so much by illegal activities of some unscrupulous lottery operators. There is lack of transparency and integrity on their part. From now on if there is a draw where a winner would emerge, we would monitor it properly and professionally and the agency or company would pay a minimum of 50 per cent to those who practise it.

Sometimes, they pay but it is so minute that it doesn't make any impact. They would also pay another 20 per cent  that must go back to the commission to put in a trust fund. In effect 70 percent goes back to the people. They must get our permit or licence as the case may be. We must be present at any lottery that takes place and do a follow up on the winner (s).'

Continuing, Igho, who spent 32 years with the Nigerian Television Authority, said: 'The game is meant for people from the age of 18 upwards. Lottery create jobs; the great China Wall was built with lottery money. Napoleon Bornaparte attended the great academy that was built with lottery money. Nigerian cannot be an exception. Many charlatans are out there. The more we build transparency and accountability, the more we would get enough money to do many things. From now on, mobile lottery should go to newspapers houses to advertise. We have at the moment N1.7b in the trust fund and it is going to be spent on good courses. We are working to get 23 million Nigerians to play lottery and it would translate to $1b annually. Baba Ijebu alone has contributed almost N1b to the trust fund. We have opened eight new offices, which would begin operation soon. All the licensees must be honest and transparent.'

For maximum result, Igho stated that an enforcement team by the Nigeria police and staffers of the commission as well as partnering with the NCC, NOA, NANS and other relevant agencies in addition to a call centre where the public can report any fraudulent activity of any lottery event would, in no small measure, help in the commission's mandate.