Noah Ebije, Kaduna
There was palpable tension on Thursday at the public hearing on the proposed bill to ban sales and consumption of beer and other related alcohol by Sabon Gari Local Government Area, Zaria, Kaduna State.
A letter dated 21st October from the legislative council invited Hotel and Beer Parlour Proprietors Association, otherwise known as Liquor Association for the public hearing.
Making their observation and submission at the hearing through their lawyer, Mr. Daniel Peter, the hoteliers noted that local governments in Nigeria have the power to license, regulate and control the sales of liquor, but they do not have power to prohibit the sales of liquor and do not have the legislative power to prohibit consumption of beer.
He pointed out that Section 5 and 6 of the said bill clearly prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol and this is outside the legislative powers of local governments which “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 also noted that Section 7 of the proposed bill which talked about prostitution had been legislated by the Kaduna State Assembly in Section 169 of the Kaduna State Penal code which is 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 in Sabon Gari should be guided by its legislative powers conferred by the Constitution and not arrogate unto itself extra powers outside the provision s of the law.
“That in exercising its constitutional powers of control in this regards, 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 licence for sell of alcohol or liquor to persons approved by Liquor Association within the local government to ensure easy/proper regulation and control.”
Also, pushing for the suspension of the bill at the hearing, the representatives of local liquor sellers known as ‘Brukutu’, Mr. Richard Sankai, said outlawing sales of alcohol in the local government area would affect the livelihood of the sellers since most of them are widows who depend on the business to take care of their families.
Meanwhile, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Zaria, said no religious body advocated or preached for the sale and consumption of liquor, but urged the council to thread with caution in handling the proposed bill in accordance with the Constitution of the country.
The JNI and CAN were respectively represented by Alhaji Aminu Abdullahi and Pastor Moses Haruna.