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Food employers reject commission’s closure of member companies

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Olusegun Oshinowo, NECA Director General.

The Association of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE), an umbrella body for manufacturers in the Food, Beverage and Tobacco industry in Nigeria, has bemoaned the action of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), on the closure of its member companies in the industrial sector.

The union said the closure of these companies was an attempt to coerce them into making payments that have over time been contested, and are currently subject of litigation in the courts.

While asking the Federal Government through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who supervises the Commission, as well as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, to wade into the matter, the employers appealed to the Commission to follow the law in all its actions and in this particular matter, allow the Court to rule on it.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Mr. Olusegun Oshinowo has deplored the gestapo-like manner in which the NLRC, ably aided by a lorry load of armed policemen, marched on the premises of Nigerian Breweries Plc to shut down the company over an alleged failure to pay a spurious commission to the Agency.

Oshinowo, who condemned the act, reiterated the association’s firm belief in the rule of law and the need for regulatory agencies to be civil and law abiding in the discharge of their responsibilities.

He maintained that the NLRC cannot constitute itself into an accuser and a judge in its own case in which it has erroneously equated sales promotion to lottery.

According to him, it is unthinkable that business premises of a multi-billion dollar investment would be rashly shut down without considering the dire implications on the economy.

He urged the Presidency and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment to call the commission’s leadership to order as the action “is not only illegal, unlawful and ultra vires but counter-productive to the laudable efforts of the Federal Government in improving the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) in Nigeria.”

Oshinowo stressed the need for all parties to await the pronouncement of the court on the case.

A statement by the employers read in part: “We consider this brazen step unacceptable especially in a democratic setting where the actions of all and sundry and especially those of Government and its Agencies should be guided by the rule of law, and respect for the country’s judicial institutions and process.”

“The National Lottery Act, 2005 does not empower it to act in the manner it has resorted to of late. Secondly, the Commission also needs to be reminded that the matter is before the Court and as such none of the parties should take any precipitate action that will present the court with a fait accompli.

“We are more worried that this is happening at a time when all hands should be on deck to increase the productive base of the Nigerian economy, promote commerce and step up development efforts.”


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