Dr Abba Sufi, the Director-General of Hisbah Board, an agency of the Kano State Government, which recently destroyed about 30-truckload of beer bottles, has said alcohol ban in Kano State is not against Nigerian constitution.
He spoke in an interview with Femi Makinde of The Punch, where he mentioned that criminal activities have reduced since the agency started destroying alcoholic drinks in the state.
What prompted Hisbah to carry out the destruction of about 30-truckload of beer bottles recently?
There is a law in the state banning the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks. It is not a new law. We have been destroying alcoholic drinks since 2004. So, why is it generating so much interest now? The case was taken to court and the court ordered Hisbah to destroy the beer. So, we destroyed it based on court order.
Which court gave the order?
A magistrates’ court gave the order. The case was taken to court. The court gave the order. And why should we keep the alcoholic drinks? We don’t have where to keep the drinks. So, we had to destroy the beer.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not prohibit the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages but there is a law in Kano State, which bans it. Is this not a contradiction?
I am not a lawyer but I know that there is no contradiction there. This is because the Kano State House of Assembly made the law banning alcoholic drinks in the state. This law was passed in 2004 and we have been enforcing the law since then.
Although there is no place in the constitution which states that the sale and consumption of alcohol are prohibited, there is a state law, which prohibits its consumption or sale. And this law must be respected by all residents in the state, irrespective of religion or ethnic background.
In view of that, I do not see any contradiction with the Nigerian Constitution or any law of the land with the Kano State law.
This is because states have the right to enact laws governing their conduct. Islam forbids the sale and consumption of intoxicants of any type, which Kano State is adhering to.
So, if we impound or confiscate alcoholic drinks along our roads or in the hotels, we take them to our court seeking permission to destroy them.
What is the quantity of the alcoholic beverages destroyed so far by the Hisbah since 2004?
Quantity as how? Is it in naira or the volume of what has been destroyed? I don’t sell beer. I don’t drink beer and I don’t know how much they sell beer; so, I don’t know the equivalent in naira.
How do you react to the view that the Kano State Government is being hypocritical by collecting proceeds from alcoholic drinks through VAT generated in other states while it is destroying same products in the name of religion?
There is no hypocrisy. It does not apply here. It doesn’t apply to me. This does not apply to the Hisbah Board.
Has the state government banned alcoholic drinks because of the Islamic position or to deny people access to intoxicants in order to reduce violent acts?
The Islamic law does not allow consumption of alcohol. Even Christianity does not allow alcohol. So, it is forbidden by the two main religions as far as I know.
The religion of Islam prohibits consumption of alcohol and Kano State is a Shariah State. Kano State is Sharia-compliant. The Kano State House of Assembly made the law banning the production, haulage, sale and consumption of alcohol. The law was enacted in 2004.
Are there places like barracks and Sabo where alcoholic beverages are allowed to be sold and consumed in the state or is it banned all over the state?
According to the law, it is banned all over the state and I don’t know if there are parts of the state where it is being sold. But the law bans the sale and consumption of alcohol in the entire state.
Is the transportation of alcoholic beverages through the state to other places allowed?
The law states that there will be no movement or haulage of alcoholic drinks and it is left for you to determine what that means. Transportation and haulage of beer is not allowed. If anybody likes, let them try it; maybe there is another interpretation for the language of the law.
Will you say crimes and other violent activities have reduced in the state since the destruction of alcoholic beverages started?
It is something like that. We have achieved reduction in crimes in the state.
What is your message to those criticising the state for banning alcoholic drinks?
We are working hard here and we don’t see anybody criticising or antagonising us. If anybody breaks the law, the law will catch up with them. The law has been there since 2004 and we are enforcing it.