The House of Representatives Committee on Finance on Monday placed the National Lottery Trust Fund on status enquiry for spending the entirety of its Internally Generated Revenue.
Consequently, the committee is set to appoint an external auditor to investigate the accounts with a report expected thereafter to enable the House to take further legislative action.
The Chairman of the Committee, James Faleke, a member of the All Progressives Congress representing Ikeja Federal Constituency, Lagos State, also charged the Fiscal Responsibility Commission and the Office of the Accountant General to probe the fund and submit their reports to the Committee.
The resolutions followed the appearance of the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Fund, Bello Maigari on Monday in the ongoing 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper interactive session with Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
According to Mr Bello, the fund in 2023 generated N2.5bn, noting however that the entire sum has been spent in the execution of various projects across the country.
The money, he said was generated from statutory remittances from licenses and permit holders.
Like in 2023, the N6.8bn generated by the fund in 2022 according to Bello was similarly spent in the execution of projects.
Mr Bello further noted that the Fund spent and incurred a deficit of N255m in 2022 because they had a carryover of liabilities in 2021.
In what appeared a bid to win the sympathy of the lawmakers, the National Lottery said the N6.2bn generated in 2022 was spent on critical sectoral interventions including education, sports development, social services, public welfare, and disaster management.
He however shocked the Committee when he told the lawmakers that the fund was expected to pay emoluments, allowances, and benefits of members of its board, as well as salaries and allowances of staff members.
Responding Faleke said, “It’s like the government opened this agency for you and your family. That is what you are saying. That is the meaning. You generated almost N2.5 billion and you spent the N2.5 billion on the last kobo. You generated N2, 492, 996, 588.13 from one source and then expended the same amount.
“We are going to carry out a status enquiry on the Nigerian Lottery Trust Fund. Status enquiry means we are going to bring in an external auditor to audit your accounts, your books, all your income, and expenses from day one to date. We would send our report to the plenary and if you are found guilty, you will be made to refund all expenditure and any other punishment thereof,” he said.
Faleke said the fund was fully funded by the Federal Government and as a result, it was bound by law to remit 100 per cent of its IGR.
“As it is expected of a fully funded government agency and as you generated over N3 billion in 2022; you were expected to remit that over N3 billion,” he said.