CSO calls for lottery commission boss suspension, probe over ‘corruption’

A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Action for Justice and Transparency Against Corrupt Practices (AJTAC) has called for the suspension and probe of the Director General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, over alleged misappropriation of funds.

Chairman, AJTAC, Mr Felix Nwankwo, who made the call in a press statement, Wednesday in Abuja, said despite being in existence for 10 years the commission has generated less than N10 billion generated.

He said there was high hopes when the DG was appointed in 2015 that he would significantly change the trend, and fulfil the mandate of the commission, noting however, that: “On August 9, 2021, the social media and conventional media were enmeshed with news of alleged fraud in the NLRC.

“The reports alleged that the DG had conspired with some staff in the commission to transfer millions of naira from government coffers to individual account.

“One of the stories revealed that these financial transactions were acknowledged by the DG’s personal media aid, who explained they were intended to provide funds to patronise the National Assembly committees that oversee the activities of the commission.

“Detailed and specific accounts disclosed brazen deceit, financial fraud, and impunity on behalf of the Director-General. This report was contained in a petition to EFCC and the Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.”

Nwankwo pointed out that yhe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) invited over 20 staff of the NLRC, mainly from the Finance and Account Departments, whose accounts were used to facilitate illicit transactions.

“The commission’s operations were suspended and the Finance and Account Department were closed for two weeks,” he  added.

According to the group, Nigerians expected that the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs or the Ministry would have taken swift action and suspended the DG to allow for effective investigation, or even send a memo to the presidency making the recommendations.

The group decried the fact that, “The commission’s governing board met on Monday, September 13, 2021, without any resolution on the allegations against the DG. Their silence speaks volumes that they intend to sweep these allegations under the carpet.”

He maintained that, “As it stands, no single person neither from the ministry or the commission has any idea on the ongoing procurement process for the CMS. So, from every indication the DG lacks the moral integrity to deliver on the CMS for the benefit of Nigerians.”

The group queried, “Is it the hidden but strong influence of the DG’s brother, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila?

“This is therefore a clarion call to President Muhammadu Buhari to save the lottery industry that holds enormous potential,” AJTAC maintained.

According Nwankwo the DG’s continued tenure at the commission threatens the integrity of the President’s war against corruption.

“Notably, other government officials have been dismissed for far less allegations than the current allegations against the DG. Government must make another example of the DG to demonstrate its continued anti-corruption commitment to demonstrate that no one is above the law.

“Since this regime came into power, its major stand point is its anti-corruption crusade, so why the cherry picking of his corruption victims and shielding corrupt officials in his administration. Over 30 top officials have been relieved of their duties after they were indicted for financial sleaze, misappropriation, fraud, among others. This as others were sacked for embarrassing administrative offenses such as forgery, insubordination, flouting of public service rules, among others.”

Efforts to reach the NLRC Head, Media and Public Relations, Mr. Magnus Ikechukwu, proved abortive at the time of filing this report as he did not pick calls to him and did not respond to text message sent to him.

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