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Nigeria Supreme Court Sets Dates for the Hearing of Dispute on Lottery Regulation

A hearing date of March 13, 2024, has been scheduled by the Nigeria Supreme Court in regard to a lawsuit filed in 2008 by the Attorney General of Lagos State against the Federal Government on gaming and Lottery Regulation.

A seven-member panel of justices, led by Chairperson Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, scheduled the date during Monday’s hearing.

The Supreme Court added 34 more States’ Attorneys General to the list of defendants on November 15, 2022. This action ranks the Attorney General of the Federation as the primary defendant, followed by the National Assembly as the secondary defendant.

Judge Kekere-Ekun proposed a time-saving solution for the hearing day by recommending that all state governments on one side present a collective argument aligned with their respective interests.

On August 15, 2022, the Federal Government emerged victorious in a legal dispute initiated by the Bookmakers Association of Nigeria against Lagos and other states concerning various gambling regulations. The conflict arose due to disputes surrounding the payment of numerous taxes and license fees to both the federal government and the individual states. Therefore, it is crucial to remember this significant outcome.

In lawsuit No. FHC/L/CS/15992020, Hon. Justice I.N. Oweibo of the Lagos High Court ruled that the National Assembly has the power to create legislation regarding lotteries. The judgment also emphasized that the federal government should have sole authority in regulating the gaming industry across the country. The constitution unmistakably places lotteries on the exclusive list.

Despite the Federal High Court ruling in favor of the Federal Government, the State and Bookmakers governments continue to remain in disagreement regarding numerous taxes and regulations.

Read Also: Matekele: Tax Reduction on Betting Will Push More Young People into Gambling

On July 19, 2023, Judge Iniekenimi Oweibo of the Federal High Court (FHC) in Lagos State issued a judgment affirming that the exclusive power to enact laws and oversee lottery operations in the country lies with the National Assembly, acting on behalf of the Federal Government.

After a few months since the FHC ruling, a second ruling was delivered by the Lagos State High Court affirming that matters regarding lotteries and one-chance betting fell under the constitutional residual list. The judge thereby concluded that Lagos State possessed the right to oversee and regulate the industry through this provision.

In contrast, the plaintiffs are urging the Supreme Court to declare that the lottery is not one of the 68 matters for which the National Assembly has sole legislative jurisdiction, as specified in Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). This request has been made through a modified originating summons labeled SC/1/2008.

The National Assembly’s power to pass legislation for the regulation and oversight of lotteries in Nigeria is being called into question by a request for a declaration. It is argued that this authority is not constitutionally valid as stipulated in Sections 4(2) and (3) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). Nigeria Supreme Court Lottery Regulation Hearing

As the Supreme Court gears up for the final hearing, this prolonged case remains highly significant and captivating for all involved parties.

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