Niger Governor returns Alcohol purchase after 24 hours of backlash cause of its ban

Niger governor, Mohammed Bago, has reversed a ban on sales of alcohol across the state, saying a rogue official was responsible for this week’s announcement that sparked uproar.

The governor said he invalidated a statement issued by Ibrahim Mohammed Bonu, head of the state’s Liquor and Licencing Board, and the ban would no longer proceed as scheduled for January 1, 2024. Mr Bonu’s controversial directive listed Suleja and eight other local governments of Niger to brace for the ban. 

Controversy immediately ensued, with Nigerians saying contiguous Abuja suburbs like Suleja, Madalla and others should not be subjected to Sharia ordinance, which has been in place in the state since May 4, 2000, despite its large Christian populations. 

But on Wednesday, the governor abruptly announced the abolition of the state’s liquor board and accused Mr Bonu of being an imposter. But Peoples Gazette learnt that Mr Bonu was a state official, and he physically handed his initial statement to beat reporters in Minna, the state capital.

“The so-called official cannot speak on behalf of the state government,” the governor said. 

“The state government did not authorise the ban on alcohol. I hereby urge the citizenry, irrespective of their religious and ethnic leanings, to go about their businesses without let or hindrances,” he added.

Stiff regulation on alcohol sales and consumption has been a lightning rod of northern Nigerian politics for decades, and politicians across the region have used it to garner populist headways. However, citizens from other regions often criticise the purely religious policy as hypocritical, especially as taxes accrued from alcohol sales constitute a large chunk of disbursement in federal allocations. 

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