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Niger governor reverses alcohol ban order after backlash

Niger governor, Mohammed Bago, has reinstated sales and consumption of alcohol across the middle belt state.

This comes barely 24 hours after the state government announced a ban on alcohol in the state, sparking backlash among members of the public.

The ban, which was contained in a statement issued by one Ibrahim Mohammed Bonu, head of the state’s Liquor and Licencing Board, was to take effect on January 1, 2024.

Bonu’s controversial directive listed Suleja and eight other local governments of Niger as places that will be affected by the directive.

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

But on Wednesday, the governor suddenly abrogated the ban, saying Bonu acted unilaterally and accused him of being an imposter.

It’s, however, gathered 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.

Despite gleefully accepting federal government allocations that accrued from the value added tax on alchol sales and consumption in other part of the country, extreme and stringent regulation on alcohol sales and consumption has been an integral part of northern Nigerian politics for decades, and politicians across the region have leveraged it to whip up ethno-religious sentiment and make populist inroads.

However, citizens from other regions often criticise the purely religious policy as hypocritical.

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