Renown Kaduna-based constitutional lawyer and member of 2015 National Conference, Festus Okoye, yesterday condemned the Kano State Government for giving powers to Hisbah (Islamic police) to seize alcoholic products in some parts of the state, describing it as illegal and unconstitutional.
Addressing journalists in Kaduna, Okoye who was also a member of Justice Uwais electoral reform committee, said both the Penal Code and the 1999 constitution recognized the diversity of the North and promulgated laws to suit the diversity.
He maintained that Hisbah had no right to intercept any vehicle carrying alcoholic products on the highways even though some of the high-ways pass through restricted areas where alcohol is forbidden.
According to him: “No vigilante group by any name has the right to intercept any vehicle carrying anything on a highway built and maintained by the Federal Government. They don’t have that particular right.
“Secondly, Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes the diversity of opinions, recognizes the diversity in culture, recognizes the diversity of values and based on that if you make a law that discriminate against any section of this country that law is in conflict with Section 42 of the Constitution of this country”
“And what States that have paid attention to diversity have done is to make certain areas alcohol restricted areas’’.
Okoye added: “In order to make sure that the sanctity of some areas are intact, areas where segregated and designated as alcohol restricted areas you cannot sell and you cannot drink. Federal High ways pass through some of these areas and nobody has the right to intercept these vehicles carrying anything containing alcohol because those Federal High ways are regulated by Federal laws and no state law is capable of regulating anything on the High way.”
“So what Hisbah is doing is completely unconstitutional and illegal; it against the constitution of Nigeria.’’
It will be recalled that Hisbah within the last three months have seized and destroyed alcoholic products worth over N300 million in unrestricted areas of the state.
Meanwhile efforts made to reach the Kano State Coordinator of Hisbah for a reaction, were unsuccessful.