Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Hotel/Beer Parlour Proprietors Association in Sabon Gari Local Government, Zaria, Kaduna State on Friday appealed to the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai to help prevail on the Chairman of Sabon Gari Council, Engr Mohammed Ibrahim Usman over what they call “discriminatory” bye-law.
Secretary of the Association, Adebola Sunday alongside other members of the association who shun early downpour to visit the office of the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) in Kaduna said, about 300 small and medium scale businesses around the council were shutdown without considering the threat COVID-19 already posed to them.
According to him, the Chairman had since 2019 deliberately denied them the opportunity to renew their operating licence as was the case on annual basis, “that 2019, we tried all we could to renew our license in several occasion but the same Chairman asked us to hold on.”
A document from the local government titled: “conditions required for the issuance of liquor license for the distribution, marketing and sale of liqour and spirit”, indicated that, any objection from residents of the areas where the businesses in question operate shall mean denial of issuance of the license, the development that did not go down well with the association, hence the objection.
According to the Association’s scribe, “we have an issue with the Chairman of Sabon Gari, Zaria. This started last year when he called us for public hearing at Dogarawa, where he was trying to say he wanted to prohibit the sales of alcohol which many people opposed.
“That 2019, we tried all we could to renew our license on several occasion with money at hand, but, he told us to hold on. We wrote the Chairman but he has been avoiding us. We were on that when COVID-19 crept in.
“The very day the lockdown was reviewed, he called us for a meeting which we thought it was on how to respond to COVID-19 safety guidelines in our business places or he wanted to announce palliative to cushion the effect of the lockdown on businesses.
“On the contrary, he asked for our license which we reminded him his refusal to issue to us. He then asked us to lockdown our businesses within 48 hours.
“As we speak, our businesses are shut. We are not doing anything to earn a living even when he knows we have a lot of people who depend on us who are now suffering.
“We want Governor El-Rufai and NHRC to intervene in this matter. We have been paying our taxes as law abiding citizens. Some of us have been doing our businesses in the area for more than 50 years”, he appealed.
Responding, Coordinator of NHRC in Kaduna State, Gwar Terngu, commended members of the association for the peaceful way they have gone about registering their displeasure concerning the Sabon Gari bye-law.
“The issue is before the court so the Commission may be constraint in making further comment. However, we received their report, their complaints, we will look at it and forward it to the headquarters to see where the commission can intervene while they remain law abiding”, he said.
Meanwhile, Chairman, Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service (KDIRS) The Executive Chairman of the Agency, Dr Zaid Abubakar, had again extended the deadline for the filing of 2019 tax returns from June 1 to Sept. 30.
The IGR Boss said the extension, which would cost the state about N300 million in revenues, was part of palliative measures to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on taxpayers.