Imo Assembly to regulate sale, consumption of ogogoro

Ogororo in bottle, final product of the local processing

Ogororo in bottle, final product of the local processing

Govt decries menace of touts, dupes

A BILL to regulate the prohibition of marketing, sale and consumption of local, unregistered gin and bitters, otherwise known as ogogoro, has been presented to the Imo State House of Assembly. Subsequently, the bill, sponsored by Ikechukwu Amuka (Ideato South) and nine other co-sponsors scaled through second reading.

In another development, the Imo State Government has decried the increasing activities of touts at its various revenue offices in the state, warning the public to beware as the touts connive with workers to rip off victims as well as divert government revenues to private pockets.

In a statement at the weekend in Owerri by the Head of Service (HoS), Calistus Ekenze, the government regretted the sharp practices but warned that it would not be held liable for such cases.

“Those going to Motor Licensing Office for sundry services are hereby enjoined to desist from patronising middlemen, touts and /or agents, be they civil servants or whoever, as they may be tempted to get involved in such unwholesome acts,” the statement read.

“They are further reminded that such act constitutes misconduct as they infringe the provisions of public service rule. Current and potential touts are hereby advised to pursue their matters directly with relevant ministries or government agencies.”
Dealers, consumers of ogogoro to pay N250,000
According to the sponsor, the bill seeks to prevent the consumption of ogogoro in the state because it poses health hazards to unsuspecting consumers, citing instances of deaths due to the gin in Rivers, Ondo and Bayelsa states.

If passed into law, he said, nobody would sell, distribute, market or consume any unregistered local gin or bitters, adding that only authorised regulatory officials from the relevant ministries and agencies can inspect anywhere so designated to ensure compliance with the provisions.

According to him, sellers, marketers and consumers would pay a fine of N250,000 or jail tern of one year or both if found guilty. Speaking on the bill, both the Deputy Speaker, Ugonna Ozuruigbo (Nwangele) and Chinedu Offor (Onuimo) regretted that people consume the gin for solace not minding its health hazards.

However, the members representing Nkwere, Chika Madumere, urged the canvassers to be mindful that enforcement might not be easy, as the consumers are peasants. The bill was eventually handed to the committee on health for further legislative work, while report is expected on August 27.

Meanwhile, a group of persons who produce and sell the local gin have urged the Assembly to jettison the bill for other pressing, people-oriented issues affecting the state.

The Owerri Kiakia Dealers Union, led by Ebenezer Uwoma, told journalists at the weekend that the bill was not enlisted under the General Alcoholic Drinks but on Local Foods.

He alleged that the deaths recorded were caused by imported alcoholic drinks, adding that his union was doing its best to be NAFDAC-compliant. He advised consumers to mind what they drink.

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