The Kano State Hisbah Board has said the sale, consumption and possession of alcoholic substances are prohibited in the state though not made illegal by the Nigerian Constitution.
In an interview with SaharaReporters on Monday, Assistant Commander of Kano Hisbah, Nabahani Usman, said Section 100 of the Nigerian constitution confers on each state the powers to enact laws 'that will suit their purpose and interest'.
He said the law is binding on anyone whether Muslims or non-Muslims, as long as the person stays in Kano State.
He added, "Kano State Penal code 2004 prohibits the sale and distribution of all alcoholic substances in the state. If you are found to be selling, consuming, or dealing in any alcoholic substances in Kano, irrespective of who you are, you are affected by the law, so whether the person is a Muslim or a Christian, as long as you are in Kano, you are affected by the law. If I go to Anambra and there is a law in place, I have to comply with it."
He said the population of non-Muslims in Kano are over one million, and areas that are dominated by Christians are not usually disturbed by men of the Hisbah board.
"If you go to Sabon Gari, they buy and drink whatever they want and nobody disturbs them at all. It’s a different state up there. In Kano, (along) Igbo Road, Hausa Road, Yoruba Road, you cannot count the number of beer (sellers) in those places and it is sold openly but we don't disturb them. Go at night, you will see so many people enjoying themselves, drinking. In fact, we warned our men not to go to Sabon Gari to arrest beer dealers; they should not go there to arrest. We know our Christian brothers and sisters are there and we don't want to disturb or create anything that will generate disturbance in the state."
Speaking on the case of Sylvanus Mba, a Christian beer seller, who was arrested and assaulted by Hisbah officials, the Assistant Commander General of the body likened the sale of alcohol in Kano to smuggling.
He said, "If you are smuggling and you get arrested in the process, at the end of the day, you lose that thing but if you are lucky to smuggle it to Sabon Gari, you are free. At Sabon Gari, some of our people even go there to drink.
"When you are arrested, you are charged to court. The court will try to confiscate the items, sentence you and fine you. They don't even detain people; they only collect the beer products and fine you between N1, 000 and N5, 000 and you are free.”
He said there were many cases similar to that of Mba and that Mba’s case was no exception.
Mba, a beer dealer and owner of Silver Tavern, along Igbo Road in Kano, was arrested and detained alongside one of his sons by the state Islamic police, Hisbah.
SaharaReporters had earlier reported how Mba, his sons and workers were beaten by Hisbah officials after which the alcoholic beverages he had stocked to sell were confiscated.
He was said to have been forced to plead guilty.
It was learnt that he and his son were later given an option to pay a fine of N40,000 each or go to jail for four months.