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Lottery Trust Fund says N7 billion fraud allegation by Senate mischievous

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The National Lottery Trust Fund (NLTF) has denied the fraud allegation levelled against it by the Senate Committee on Finance. 

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The Senate Committee on Finance chaired by Adeola Olamilekan had on Monday during an investigation into remittances by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) between 2014 and 2020 accused the agency of perpetrating fraud running to over N7 billion.

It also alleged that the agency violated due process in awarding a contract worth N1.12 billion tagged “Intervention budget distribution” that was requested for in a letter dated March 12, 2014.

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But Executive Secretary of NLTF, Bello Maigari in an interaction with newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja, described the allegation as “mischievous, noting that it was bogus, and targeted to impugn the agency’s integrity.

“We were taken aback when we appear before the senate committee and they alleged that our procurement processes were laced with fraudulent activities.  

“This is mischief at the highest level. I cannot imagine how senior members of the national assembly would be accusing us of fraud when they have not even sat down to look at our books, to check and verify how we the procurement processes took place and whether or not the projects have been delivered and whether or not the processes for procurement have been violated”. 

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“For one to just jump to conclusion and alleged there is fraud is too early in the day. We would have thought we would given be given the benefit of hearing for us to defend our actions so that at the end of the day they would be justice in the outcome of the committee’s assignment but I can assure you that nothing like that happened.”

Speaking on the allegation that the agency violated due process in the award of contract in 2014, Maigari stated; “The allegation they are referring to is on the procurement of sporting equipment for public primary schools in the country. Over 2500 schools benefitted from nine sets of sports. We have the records and we took deep pain to go through the processes of procurement and obtained necessarily approvals and that of Mr president. That intervention is the largest and most comprehensive intervention ever conducted by the agency till date and was conducted with transparency”.

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He added that there was no way the agency could spend money beyond what was appropriated for it as alleged by the upper chamber. 

“Our remittance status in the period under review is N6.3 billion not even N7 billion as paraded. At the hearing, we are in the process of advancing our argument when they called the meeting to an end. No time was given to us to respond to the questions raised. They just told us to go and reconcile our account with that of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC)

“I was indeed shocked when I heard that our Regulatory body, that is the NLRC, also does not have the records of our remittance. 

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“It is their duty as regulator to not only render account of what we receive as ‘good courses’ but to also render account of prices Nigerians win when they play lottery and gaming and what operators make at annual basis. For the regulatory commission to say they do not have records of our remittance shows gross incompetence and Nigerians should not accept that.  

“All the sources of our revenue is of public knowledge and it is mainly from the statutory remittance. There is also no overspending. There is no way you can even spend beyond what is appropriated for you. We have rendered and reported all our audited accounts to the office of the Accountant General of the Federation and that of the Auditor General.”

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