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BREAKING: Ibadan liquor sellers protest ban of sachet alcoholic drinks

Scores of liquor sellers, on Thursday in Ibadan, staged a peaceful protest against the prohibition of production and sales of sachet alcoholic beverages in the country by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Under the aegis of the Oyo State Liquor Sellers Association of Nigeria, the protesters stormed the Federal Secretariat Complex in the Ikolaba area of Ibadan, where the state office of NAFDAC is located, to express dissatisfaction with the prohibition.

The liquor sellers, led by the association’s president and secretary, Gbadegesin Adeagbo and Adebayo Ajibade, respectively, were seen carrying placards with various inscriptions, calling on NAFDAC to rescind its decision.

Messrs Adeagbo and Ajibade took turns speaking with the South-West zonal director of NAFDAC, Roseline Ajayi, on the need for the government to reverse its decision.

According to Mr Adeagbo, the union has more than 50,000 members who depend on the daily sales of alcoholic drinks for survival, adding that their outright prohibition would have a negative impact on their living standards.

He said the news of the prohibition of the production and sales of the product had inflicted psychological, emotional, mental and economic trauma on some of his members.

Mr Ajibade pleaded with the federal government and the NAFDAC director-general, Mojisola Adeyeye, to consider the plight of liquor sellers due to the prohibition.

“We appeal to NAFDAC to rescind its decision on the matter to prevent untimely death among us and some of us from becoming street beggars because the decision will definitely take us out of business,” Mr Ajibade said.

Responding, Ms Ajayi said the ban was aimed at controlling unrestricted access to alcoholic drinks by the underage, which, she said, posed health risks to them.

She noted that in 2010, at the World Health Assembly, held in Geneva, there was a concern that the rate at which alcohol was available to young people was alarming and thus leading to addiction.

“At that forum, all the countries were advised to go and stimulate strategies that would reduce alcohol accessibility to young people. But in Nigeria, nothing happened till 2018 when the federal government, NAFDAC, the Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers and other relevant stakeholders held a meeting.

“At the meeting it was resolved that a five-year grace be given before the prohibition of the sales of 200ml sachet alcohol. The five-year grace ended in February and that is the reason the NAFDAC D-G announced the prohibition,” Ms Ajayi said.

The zonal director, however, said the national assembly had made a declaration on the suspension of the enforcement of the prohibition.

Ms Ajayi added, “As we speak now, the ban was a ministerial directive, and with the pronouncement from the national assembly, the minister hasn’t said anything to our director-general.

“So, as we are now, I do not see any reason for this protest because we are still waiting for a directive on whether we will go ahead with the prohibition or rescind it.

“I can only appeal to you to wait till we get another ministerial directive. It is not in my power to say the enforcement will continue or stop.”

Ms Ajayi, however, assured the protesters that their message would be delivered to the appropriate authorities, even as she urged them to remain calm and maintain peace.