A looming war is threatening the hitherto peaceful operation of the lotto industry in Nigeria no thanks to the underhand tactics of Senator Buruji Kashamu in his desire to illegally take over the industry in the country.
At the centre of the storm is the seeming collaboration of officials of the National Lotto Regulation Commission (NLRC) with Kashamu to bastardised due process guiding the rules and regulations of the industry in Nigeria.
Members of the Lotto Operators Association of Nigeria are not ready to fold their arms hence their decision to take every legal steps to stop both Senator Kashamu and his cohorts in the NLRC from perpetrating their illegalities.
The bone of contention is the ownership of the Ghana Games in Nigeria.
Ghana Games have been introduced to Nigeria by major lotto operators in Nigeria. They worked hard to popularise the games and make them the favourites of lotto players in the country.
Just as the Ghana Games began popular acceptance in Nigeria, Kashamu appeared suddenly claiming exclusive ownership of the games.
He not only claimed exclusive ownership of the games, he also aimed at collecting commission from other operators operating the Ghana games. In fact, he claimed that he is entitled to 40% from each operator operating the Ghana games.
The other operators resisted this and Kashamu went to court. The other operators also raised their legal team to counter him in court.
A total of 25 lotto operators were taken to court by Kashamu claiming exclusive ownership of the Ghana games from them while the NLRC is one of the respondents in the case. The case is ongoing in court.
But Kashamu suddenly introduced a bizarre twist to the story – he is seeking an out of court settlement with the NLRC thereby leaving the other operators in the lurch.
The question on the lops of many is why would Kashamu seek an out of court settlement in a case he is the plaintiff?
Not a few, particularly members of the lotto operators association, suspected foul play.
The many questions on the lips of many is why will Kashamu rush to sign an out of court settlement in a case he initiated? Has he suddenly lost faith in the court process? Why is he such in a hurry for a back door out of court settlement?
Going by his unscrupulous antecedents, many believed that Kashamu’s sudden love affair with NLRC would not bear any good fruit.
Aware of the desperate, underhand tactics of Kashamu, aided by NLRC officials, to circumvent due process, the other lotto operators, determined not to allow this to happen, swung into action.
Already they have written a petition to the House of Representatives Committee on Gaming which has commenced full investigation into the matter.
They have not stopped – they have also sent petitions to the Senate and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
The lotto operators are protesting the move by the NLRC to sign out of court agreement with Kashamu behind their back. “This is very suspicious and inimical to the progress of other operators. Signing such agreement with him, will Kashamu a pseudo-regulator where other operators will now be paying him royalties for inventing nothing, a case of eating where he did not sow,” an official of one of the lotto operators based in Ibadan explained to this medium.
Further investigations at the NLRC revealed that indeed Kashamu’s nocturnal activities in the commission have polarised staff and management of the commission. There are claims and counter claims of money inducement among staff and management of the commission and Kashamu, huge sums of money were reported to have exchange hands and Kashamu even had the gut to introduce a consultant to the commission.
The lotto operators have vowed not to waiver in their collective struggle to ensure that due process is not toy with by Kashamu and his cohorts in the NLRC.
The die is indeed cast.