Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), an Abuja based pro-democracy, anti-corruption and justice sector Civil Society Organization has written to the Honourable Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Senator (Dr.) George Akume advocating for the suspension or sack of Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila as Director-General, Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission over his complicity in massive corruption, abuse of office, fraud and unlawful diversion of public funds into private pockets.
In the letter dated 6th July, 2020 signed by Barrister Joseph Chinelo Nwaegbu as Assistant Secretary and made available to newsmen yesterday, GICN stated that it has been pointing torch lights at various Ministries, Departments, Parastatals and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria to assess their level of compliance with extant laws regarding utilization of public funds.
According to the organization, its private investigators had supplied facts and documents which put Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila on the spot as having turned his office into a conduit pipe since he was appointed in April, 2017 causing Nigeria to lose millions of naira from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the Commission.
Earlier on 22nd June, 2020 the group through its Director of Research and Evaluation, Comrade Henry Onyilo gave Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila seven days ultimatum to resign his appointment so that the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR can replace him with another competent, qualified, fit and proper person who can take the Commission to the enviable height it ought to be as a revenue generating agency.
Part of the letter reads: “A cursory look at the Audit Report for 2018 reveals chains of unapproved expenditures and spending sprees calculated to milk the NLRC dry. As a gross abuse of office, you authorized that your Personal Assistant (Bomodeoku Oyebode Olatunde) and Special Adviser (Akeju Olafadeke Iyabode) be paid the monthly emoluments of N65,41.75 (Sixty Five Thousand, Forty One Naira, Seventy Five Kobo) as well as N450,000 (Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira), respectively from the IGR having listed them in the Main Payroll of the Commission.
“This is notwithstanding the fact that the employment of those staffers are predicated upon your own appointment as Director-General and their fringe benefits have been monetized according to the Federal Circular with Reference Number SGF.19/S.47/C.I/III/143 dated 13th July, 2007”.
”Furthermore, the Commission has in 2017 lost revenue amounting to N39,000,000 (Thirty Nine Million Naira) through arranged waiver in favour of Mobicards International Limited.
“The records would show that the Company in a letter addressed to you dated 10th October, 2017 paid N50,000,000 (Fifty Million Naira) out of its total indebtedness to National Lottery Trust Fund being N89,000,000 (Eighty Nine Million Naira). In what looks like a pre-arranged situation, you did not hesitate to minute an approval on the letter same day that waiver of the aforesaid N39,000,000 (Thirty Nine Million Naira) be granted.
“This is strange as the Company was not qualified for a waiver in the first place.
“Also, you have no authority whatsoever under the law to grant waivers without recourse to the Board, Secretary to the Government of the Federation or the Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs which presently oversees the Commission, as the case may be”.
The group also noted that “No doubt, lottery all over the world is a goldmine with enormous income potentials and means through which job opportunities are created. Our research has shown that small countries in West Africa like Senegal and Ghana generate not less than 100 Million Dollars per annum from lottery (an equivalent of about 40 Billion Naira) despite their low populations.
“Nigeria with our population of over 200 Million people and high participation in lottery activities, if properly exploited, could generate over 300 Billion Naira per annum.
“However, this proper exploitation has been impossible over the years largely due to the ongoing corruption, fraud and leakages under your leadership of the NLRC. We recall that during the 2019 Big Brother Show, there were over 240 Million Votes at N30 (Thirty Naira) each which amounted to 7.2 Billion Naira. The Commission was supposed to get 20% of this sum which equals a whooping sum of 1.4 Billion Naira..
“Unfortunately, what came to coffers of the Commission in the end was less than 5 Million Naira because for personal gains you put aside the electronic surveillance scheme meant to monitor data transfers on all SMS sent during the Big Brother Show”.
In a swift reaction, the Director-General through his lawyers I.F. Chude & Associates wrote on 30th June, 2020 threatening GICN and demanding for immediate retraction of its “grave, malicious, mischievous and unfounded” allegations against him coupled with a well worded “apology” to be published in certain media outfits.
On its part, GICN was quick to fire back through letter dated 4th July, 2020 maintaining that as a law oriented organization, litigation has never been a threat to it.
It went on to state that the bogus assertion made by the lawyers to Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila that the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Governing Board of the Commission had all investigated the present allegations and cleared him of any malfeasance is laughable.
As a matter of fact, the group made up of “dogged advocates of integrity” claimed that its enquiry at the aforesaid offices point to the indisputable fact that Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila was never cleared of any malfeasance but his lawyers lied, adding that “we will sustain our advocacy for your client’s suspension and or removal using every legal tool at our disposal”.
On the issue of tendering apology to Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila as well as paying him compensation in the sum of Five Billion Naira, the group vowed not heed any of those demands made by the lawyers and dared to meet them in court.