Lottery control: Supreme Court fixes date to hear suit against FG, 34 others

Posted by Timige, On 20 Nov, 2023 | Updated On 20 Nov, 2023 No Comments »


The Supreme Court has fixed March 13, 2024, to hear a suit filed in 2008, by the Attorney General of Lagos State against the Federal Government, over who controls and regulates the gaming and lottery sector.

Ekiti state was joined as co-plaintiff in the suit following an order of the court made on October 6, 2020, and while the Attorney General of the Federation is the 1st defendant in the matter, the National Assembly is the 2nd defendant.

The Attorneys General of 34 other States, were also joined as defendants by the Supreme Court on November 15, 2022.

A seven-member panel of Justices of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, fixed the date at a resumed hearing in the matter on Monday.

Bode Olanipekun (SAN), announced appearance for the Lagos State Government, Adetunji Osho appeared for Ekiti state, while the Federal Government was represented by Innocent Daa’gba and Ifeanyi Mrialike represented the National Assembly.

The Attorneys General of the 33 States were duly represented and announced appearances, but, there was no legal representation for Kwara state despite being served with hearing notice.

The Supreme Court ordered Jigawa and Kaduna State Governments to put their houses in order by resolving the issue of legal representation before the next hearing date and
unanimously deemed all the processes filed out of time by the defendants as duly and properly filed, having been regularized.

The application by the Attorney General of Oyo State to join as co-plaintiff having been withdrawn, was struck out by the panel.

Justice Kekere-Ekun advised that all the State Governments that are on one side, should present a common argument in order to save the time of the court on the hearing date.

Speaking to judiciary correspondents at the Supreme Court, Innocent Daagba, said he had filed processes and submissions of the Federal Government since 2020, adding that the processes have been regularized by the court, which clears the coast for hearing of the matter.

On 15 August 2022, the Federal Government (the Nigerian Lottery Regulation Commission and the Nigerian Lottery Trust fund) won against Lagos and other States, on the issue of multiple regulations in the gaming sector.

The Bookmakers Association of Nigeria had initiated the suit to determine the legitimate regulators of gaming businesses because they complained about paying multiple taxes and licensing fees to States and the Federal Government.

In the suit No: FHC/L/CS/15992020, filed before Justice Iniekenimi Oweibo of the Lagos High Court, the Judge declared that the Federal Government should be the sole regulator of the gaming business in the country as the constitution is clear on the position of lottery in the exclusive list and the National Assembly can legislate on lottery matters.

Despite the judgement, there is still not end to the back-and-forth bickering between the bookmakers and State Governments on multiple taxation and regulation.

On July 19, 2023, Justice Oweibo ruled that the Federal Government, through the National Assembly, had the exclusive right to legislate and control lottery activities in the country.

A few months after the ruling, a Lagos State High Court delivered another judgement holding that matters pertaining to lottery and one-chance betting were subjects under the residual list in the constitution. By this, the judge held that Lagos State had the right to regulate the sector.

However, by a further amended originating summons marked SC/1/2008, the Plaintiffs want the apex court to declare that “lottery is not one of the 68 items in respect of which the National Assembly has the exclusive vires to make laws under Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)”.

They are seeking a declaration that having regard to the clear provisions of Section 4(2) and (3) of the Constitution, the National Assembly lacks the vires to legally and constitutionally make any Law to regulate and control the operation of lottery in Nigeria.

They also seek among others, “A declaration that, having regard to the clear provision of Section 4(4)(a), (b) and Part ll of the Second Schedule to the Constitution, matters relating to lottery do not fall within items which the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly are concurrently empowered to make Laws with regard thereto”.

They also want the the apex court to order the Federal Government to give account of all revenues earned by the Federation of Nigeria, with respect to the implementation of the National Lottery Act CAP N145, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, within Lagos State and pay same over to the Plaintiff.

Source: State Oyo - Tribune

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