By Michael Ojo
A crowd of protesters on Monday morning stormed the premises of the Federal High Court, Lagos to protest what they termed judicial bias in the handling of a lawsuit filed by Western Lotto Limited, belonging to Senator Buruji Kashamu.
In the case being handled by Justice C.J. Aneke, Western Lotto Limited sued 23 rival lottery firms over alleged infringement on its licence on “Ghana games”.
One of the defendants is Premier Lotto Limited, popularly known as Baba Ijebu Gaming Limited, belonging to Chief Keshington Adebutu.
December last year, following an application by Western Lotto legal team, Justice Aneke had made an antom piller order, authorising Western Lotto to enter into and search the offices of the defendants for evidence of the alleged infringement on its licence on “Ghana games”.
The judge also dismissed the defendants’ preliminary objection, challenging the court’s jurisdiction and seeking to set aside the antom piller order.
On Monday morning, the protesters, who besieged the court, carried placards with various inscriptions accusing the judge of bias.
Some of the inscriptions were, ‘Aneke, do the right thing’; ‘Justice is not for sale’; ‘We say no to Kashamu’s judicial rascality’; ‘Equity & Fairness = Justice; Padi-Padi Judgment = Injustice’; among others.
But reacting to the protest, Western Lotto Limited’s Managing Director, Dr Olumide Adedeji, blamed it on “Adebutu and Golden Chance Lotto’s Idowu Obasa.”
In a statement, titled, “Protest at the Federal High Court: Our Response,” Adedeji said, “The indubitable fact is that since their acts of economic sabotage, which runs into N100bn, have been exposed through Western Lotto’s patriotic efforts, they have resorted to all manner of cheap blackmail and mudslinging.
“The stage-managed protest is one of such activities. They seem to have lost faith in the capacity of their legal teams to save them; hence, the resort to extrajudicial tactics. They are doing all these with a view to stalling the out-of-court settlement between Western Lotto and the National Lottery Regulatory Commission so that they can continue to illegally sell the Ghana games and short-changing of the Federal Government.”
Meanwhile, hearing in the matter is scheduled for Tuesday.
The first and second defendants in the suit are the National Lottery Regulation Commission; Registrar of Trademarks, respectively.
The Premier Lotto Limited is the third of the 23 lottery firms also joined as defendants.
The defendants filed an application praying the court to “decline jurisdiction to entertain, adopt or otherwise give effect to the Terms of Settlement dated 10/07/20 executed between the plaintiff and the first defendant (National Lottery Regulation Commission).”