Tension in Zaria over plans to outlaw beer

There was confusion in Sabon Gari area of Zaria in Kaduna State on Thursday over the proposed bill to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol The SUN News reports.

The hearing of the proposed bill took place at the Sabon Gari Local Government Area secretariat where emotions flew.

Sabon Gari is a settlement for non-indigenes.

The Sabon Gari Local Government Area had in a letter dated October 21, 2019, invited hotel owners and liquor sellers for the public hearing.

At the hearing on Thursday, the hotel owners, through their lawyer, Mr. Daniel Peter, noted that local governments in Nigeria had the powers to license, regulate and control the sale of liquor, but he argued that they lacked power to prohibit the sale of liquor or legislate to prohibit the consumption of beer.

He noted that sections 5 and 6 of the said bill clearly prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol, adding that it was outside the legislative powers of local governments.

He argued that the sections were clearly stated in the fourth schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended) and “therefore ultra vires and not within the legislative competence of LGs.”

He noted that Section 7 of the proposed bill which talked about prostitution had been legislated by the Kaduna State  House of Assembly in Section 169 of the Kaduna State Penal Code which he said was applicable and enforceable in Sabon Gari LG based on its constitutional powers.

However, the hoteliers recommended that “the proposed bill should, in fact, be on licensing, regulation and control of the sale of liquor as clearly stated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended) and not to prohibit sale and consumption of alcohol.”

They said Sabon Gari should be guided by its legislative powers conferred by the constitution and not arrogate unto itself extra powers outside the provisions of the law.

“That in exercising its constitutional powers of control in this regard, sale of alcohol can be exempted in open.

“That all persons who sell alcohol within the local government must belong to Liquor Association within the local government for easy identification, regulation, and control.

“That the local government should only give license for sale of alcohol or liquor to persons approved by the Liquor Association within the local government so as to ensure easy/proper regulation and control.”

Also, pushing for the suspension of the bill at the hearing, a local liquor seller is also known as ‘Burukutu’, Richard Sankai, said the sale of the drink had in no small measures assisted widows among others to take care of their families.

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