Interdict DG Of NLA Over Unlawful extortion-Lawyer Condua Fumes

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The collection of illegal fees by the National Lotto Authority(NLA) and the revocation of licenses to operate VAG lotto under Act 844, which gave the independent private operators the mandatory power to register as Lotto Marketing Company and to operate as Banker to Banker since 1989.

Speaking at a joint press briefing by the Concerned Lotto Agents and Writers Association (CLAG) and Ghana Lotto Operators Association (GLOA), Mr. Francis Ato Condua Esq, Publicity Lawyer for the group, said the NLA’s collection of illegal fees from private sector operators to operate Banker to Banker lotto using the numbers drawn by NLA.

He mentioned that the NLA’s unethical take-over of VAG Lotto from VAG-Licensed private sector operators in Ghana with huge debts to private operators.

The benefits of the private sector operating as a partner to government was encouraged after the promulgation of PNDC Law 223(1998) which legalized private sector participation in lottery, to give the needed impetus to district employment generation and revenue mobilization towards the development of Ghana.

According to him, the Ghana Lotto Operators Association (GLOA), believe that the NPP government is being deceived by the few disgruntled senior managers of the NLA, who out of selfish interest are hell-bent on setting up new contract schemes to benefit from NLA long after they have left office. This scheme is similar to what was inherited under the previous administration, by entering contract agreement with IT companies for new operating systems/platforms, to take their percentage.

He also noted that all schemes being orchestrated by the top hierarchy of NLA is intended to entrench a monopoly which has out-lived its usefulness, by preventing private sector participation, to create an albatross whose end are self-aggrandizement and corruption through the use of binding contracts. The current Director General at NLA has used official means to extort millions of Ghana Cedis from private sector operators by deceiving them into paying monies running into several millions of cedis to license private sector operators for Banker to Banker Lotto, using NLA draw numbers.

This has been found to be a hoax designed to fleece them of their capital, seize their legally acquired draw machines for VAG Lotto, and bankrupt them permanently.

Mr Ato Condua stressed that the fees NLA unlawfully collected are; GH₵1 Million cedis each paid by 24 operators to operate nationwide; GH₵180.00 cedis each for lotto writers nationwide; and GH₵ 5,000.00 each for lotto agents nationwide have each provided GH₵5 million bank/insurance guarantees to NLA, the group condemn the unlawful attempts to collect all private sector operators draw machines, equipment and operating systems, after deceiving them into demonstrating their self-acquired system/ platforms to NLA.

The group’s further condemn these acts of administrative corruption by the Director General, ask for his interdiction and the full refund of millions of cedis collected from operators to license them to operate by drawing on NLA number, and for getting them to register according to regions for this non-existent lotto operation.

They also ask for a government investigations into the activities of the Director General, because to date all attempts by the private operators to obtain an MOU or official receipts for the millions of cedis collected by NLA, has proved futile.

Mr Ato Condua, pointed out that this collection of funds by the top management of NLA and intended to deceive GLOA members to commit their capital to render them bankrupt, is fraudulent and needs to be investigated thoroughly by the special prosecutor office. The NLA DG must know that threat issued in the presence of the top hierarchy of the military and the police at its meeting with GLOA, if carried out, will potentially decrease the fortunes of the NPP at the next elections, from 3million agents, writers, patrons and their families.

The NLA, an unjustified monopoly created for lotto operations in Ghana, is seeking to bankrupt private sector lotto operators, by surreptitiously using illegal “bully-boy” tactics to frustrate, bankrupt and seize private operator’s machines and platforms acquired under license for VAG Lotto operations in Ghana.

It will be recalled that the Veterans Administration of Ghana (VAG) in 2014 officially licensed some private sector operators in GLOA to operate its VAG Lotto initially for five years.

He further warn NLA and government that plan to maintain a permanent monopoly over lottery in Ghana by subjugating all private lotto operators to become “ lotto marketing licensees” to sell for NLA will not work. It cost the NPP two elections! The creation of a parallel ICT platform with Chinese company to surrender 6% operating system fees to shadow beneficiaries in Ghana, long after their retirement form NLA will be exposed very soon. The use of official and unlawful threats to suppress private participation in lottery in Ghana, for the sake of NLA management corruption is already well-noted by international donor agency in Ghana.

This will not work, so DG take a cue from the revelations coming out form Camelot, Simnet and PDS.

The commencement of VAG Lotto operations, the NLA wage legal battles against VAG, which ultimately settled the issue that Act 844 which gave authority of VAG to operate its own lotto, was not subservient to the NLA’s Act 722.

Mr. Ato Condua said base on this defeat in court compelled NLA to begin to canvass the revocation of licenses granted to the private sector operators to run VAG Lotto, so it can be appointed to run VAG Lotto. As can be seen today, NLA has forced VAG to revoke the licenses granted to private operators leading to heavy loss of significant investments made to operate the VAG lotto. NLA has forced VAG into this bad decision with the intention to bankrupt private operators who are now saddled with huge debts to banks. GLOA calls on the government to act as follows:

1. Government should immediately investigate the DG for all monies collected by NLA from private sector operators (GLOA) and refund same to operators. These funds and systems/machines were unlawfully taken under fraudulent pretenses.

2. Government should interdict the DG and sales Director of NLA until the issue is fully investigated and proper sanctions applied.

3. Government should establish an agenda for regularizing GLOA’s operation under the section 2(4) of the National Lotto Act 722, 2007.

4. Government should propose modalities for the establishment of a lotto commission, to break up the monopoly of NLA, as monopoly in modern times is as good as bad governance, and an anathema to NPP’s much-touted support for private sector development.

5. Government should provide opportunities to licenses private operators nationwide, for payment of appropriate lawful fees, monthly GRA Taxes, VAT and other charges to government.

6. Government should allow GLOA to make significant financial contributions to the national budget, while providing nationwide employment to the teeming unemployed people in the districts.

7. Government should provide the needed support to regularize GLOA’s operations in their bid to facilitate increased revenue and employment generation at the district level.

The government needs to understand that, the unaddressed concerns of the citizens can lead to uncontrolled anger, and bring change at elections

By Dominic Akuffo

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