The authorities of Kaduna state have begun the process that will amend a section of the recently passed penal code that prohibits drinking of alcohol in the state.
In October 2015, the governors from the 19 northern states had set up a committee of state attorneys general to review the law to enable it meet with current realities across the region.
On May 29, 2017, the code was subsequently reviewed and enacted into the Kaduna State Penal Code Law, 2017 – making the state the first to pass the new code.
However, a section of the newly passed code, “section 383”, which appears to make “drinking” a crime in the state, has been met with dispute and outrage.
While speaking with Premium Times on Wednesday, a source at the Kaduna State Government House, disclosed that when the State Executive Council ratified the draft penal code and then forwarded it to the state house of assembly, “Section 383 retained the penalty in previous editions of the Penal Code against Muslims drinking.”
The source, who sought to speak on the condition of anonymity, however, admitted that what the lawmakers passed omitted the reference to “Muslims” and made it appear that there is a general restriction against drinking.
According to the source, Sections 381 and 382 of the Penal Code criminalise drunkenness, not drinking.
“These two sections show that there is no intent to criminalise or prohibit drinking, and that therefore Section 383 is an anomaly.”
The source also said the anomaly was brought to the attention of the state government in recently, adding that a letter has already been sent to the assembly asking the lawmakers to correct and amend the controversial section.