Noah Ebije, Kaduna
There was tension in Zaria, yesterday, following the commencement of public hearing on the proposed bill banning sales and consumption of alcohol in an arear known as, Sabon Gari .
In a letter dated October 21, the legislative arm of the local council in Zaria invited hotel and beer parlour owners, otherwise known as Liquor and Beer Association, to the hearing.
Also invited were representatives of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
JNI and CAN were represented by Alhaji Aminu Abdullahi and Pastor Moses Haruna and in their submissions noted that none of the religion advocated or preached the sale and consumption of alcohol. They, however, demanded that the Zaria council tread with caution in handling the proposed bill in accordance with the constitution of Nigeria.
However, alcohol sellers and hotel owners rejected the planned bill as a breach of the law and said its implementation would be inimical to their businesses and livelihood.
A representatives of the local liquor sellers known as ‘Brukutu’, Mr. Richard Sanka, in his presentation, demanded the suspension of the bill saying it will affect the livelihood of sellers, explaining that most ‘brukutu’ sellers were widows who depended on the business to foot their bills and attend to needs of their families.
Lawyer to the hoteliers and beer sellers, Mr. Daniel Peter, said local governments under the Nigerian law were only empowered to licence, regulate and control sales of liquor, but not to ban or prohibit its sales or consumption by adults.
Peter faulted section 5 and 6 of the Bill as clearly prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol, saying it was outside the legislative powers of any local governments to enact such laws.
Said Peter: “The hoteliers recommend the proposed Bill should be on licensing, regulation and control of the sale of liquor as clearly stated in the constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), and not to prohibit sale and consumption of alcohol in Sabon Gari. They should be guided by legislative powers conferred by the constitution and not arrogate itself extra powers outside the provisions of the law. That in exercising its constitutional powers of control in this regards, sale of alcohol can be exempted in open.”