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Lawyer writes lottery commission over unpaid N186m wins

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A Lagos lawyer, Victor Emerson, has petitioned the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), urging it to probe unpaid sports bet winnings of over N186 million involving his clients.

In a petition dated February 24, 2021, he said his clients, Cephas Esemeka, Goodluck Solomon and Uloeze Odum won N186, 554,545 after placing bets with Bet Bonanza but were not paid.

Esemeka, Solomon and Odum had on January 16, 2021, also petitioned the commission over the same issue. 

NLRC acknowledged receipt of the petitions on February 17 and 24.

In a March 16 letter to the NLRC Director-General, Emerson stated that the commission was yet to respond to the petition of February 24 several weeks after receiving it.

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According to him, the agency’s delay in attending to the petition “lends credence to our clients’ suspicions that the Commission may have assumed a position on this issue to their detriment”.

Emerson said: “We have no hesitation whatsoever in taking this matter outside the Commission where it appears the Commission is being deliberate in the dereliction of its statutory duties.”

The lawyer urged the NLRC to “take the appropriate steps to ensure that our petition is given its due consideration as it is statutorily appointed to do…”

The petitioners said they went to Bet Bonanza agent in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, to cash out their reward but were informed that the company withdrew the funds already credited to the agent for their payment.

The petitioners said they went to the company’s head office in Lagos and were informed that the payments were withdrawn because the games were allegedly fixed.

Esemeka said he placed bets on the same games with another company and won N19million, which he redeemed.

The petitioners urged the NLRC to investigate the non-payment of the winnings and to help them redeem their rightful cash rewards from Bet Bonanza.

They attached evidence of the bets they placed, including ticket numbers and winnings.

But, Bet Bonanza claimed that the petitioners were not entitled to the winnings.

The company’s lawyers, Babajimi Ayorinde and Oladimeji Sarumi, in a March 8 response to the petitioners’ demand letter, stated: “Our client has gone through your letter and the tickets you forwarded to us and is of the view that your clients have breached its terms and conditions, amongst other infractions.”

“In light of this, our client is of the view that your clients are not entitled to any winnings. We hope you will advise your clients accordingly.”

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