NLRC unseals Nestlé’s head office after firm agrees to pay disputed lottery fees

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The National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) has agreed to reopen the corporate headquarters of Nestle Nigeria Plc following an agreement reached with the food and beverage firm to pay a disputed N65m lottery commission stemming from lottery promos the company held between 2012 and 2014.

According to the NLRC, the company’s office was sealed for violating the National Lottery Act, 2005 and National Lottery Regulations, 2007. The NLRC, which is an agency of the Federal Government, regulates sales promo operated by companies.

The Director General of the NLRC, Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila, at the weekend issued a statement stating that the federal government had shut the offices of the multinational food and beverage firm following hours of failed negotiations with its management led by the Head of its Human Resource, Mr. Adesola Akinyosoye.

The statement further said that the enforcement team of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission led by its Director of Monitoring and Enforcement, Sajo Mohammed sealed the administrative office of Nestle PLC located at 22-24 Industrial Avenue, Ilupeju area Lagos.

The statement claimed that the conglomerate “had in 2009 carried out a promo lottery captioned Nestle Milo Scratch and Win”, valued at N10.92 million; another promo in 2012 captioned Buy Save and Win More Promo (Nestle New Year Shopper’s Combo) valued at N15 million, yet another one in 2012, captioned “Super Market Back 2 School, valued at N20 million and its 2014 promo, captioned “Year-End Shoppers Bag Promo, valued at N188 million.”

The commission claimed that all the promotional lotteries were carried out by Nestle Plc without authorisation of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, as required by law; ignoring all attempts by the NLRC for those lotteries to be properly regularised.

It added that total value of the promotional lotteries “was N233, 992, 500 with total regulation fees of N65, 155, 365.00. When the Enforcement team of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission arrived at the premises of Nestle PLC at 22-24 Industrial Avenue Ilupeju, Lagos, it was learnt that the Managing Director was not available.

“His absence paved way for Akinyosoye to negotiate on his behalf. But the administrative block was sealed when it appeared that Nestle PLC was unwilling to give an undertaken on when to pay the fees. But it was unsealed as soon as the undertaken was signed and given on behalf of Nestle PLC by Akinyosoye.”

Before the enforcement at Nestle, it was said that the Director-General of the commission had warned of the commission’s resolve to step-up its enforcement exercise against companies who were in violation of the lottery act.

Gbajabiamila said he “will not spare any defaulting operator, including those involved in non-regularized promotional lottery activities.

“The commission as an agency of the Federal Government must play its role in nation building by taking every lawful step to achieve its mandate, especially in the area of revenue generation. We at the commission will not fold our arms and watch Nigerians being shortchanged in any aspect of lottery activities,” he was quoted as saying.

In November 2018, the commission also moved against Nigerian Breweries Plc, shutting its corporate office in Lagos and Abuja for what the commission said was a violation of the National Lottery Act of 2005 and failure of the brewing company to pay N326m fees on promotional lotteries carried out by the firm valued at N1.3bn.

A federal High Court in Abuja would later in March 2019 rule in favour of the NLRC stating that the commission had the power given to it by the National Lottery Act of 2005 and the National Lottery Regulation 2007 to regulate company sales promos and others.

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