By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Coalition of Muslims Students and Youths of Nigeria, Kwara State Chapter yesterday held a peaceful protest against the renewal of Import license to Cigarettes producing factory located in a University environment.Addressing newsmen during the protest, Kwara State Coordinator of the group Mallam Saadu Billaminu Olawale called on the Board of Customs and Legal Department to halt process of renewing import license for Orion Agro Industries Nigeria Limited Ilorin, saying it will negatively impact more than 20,000 students living in the area.
Billaminu said the moral sanity of the University environment should be maintained stressing that majority of the students in the community are Muslim, who are not comfortable with the activities of the cigarette factory.
“We are here because of the planned attempt by the Customs to renew import license for Orion Agro Industries, when the information filter to town that this company it’s about to recommence it’s cigarette business here, we became worried because we have more than 20, 000 students in this community and their moral sanity is our great concern.
“It’s wrong to be producing cigarette directly opposite a university, a Islamic faith based institution for that matter. We want the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Custom Service Col. Hammed Ali to do its due diligence and consider the health interest of over 20,000 students and youths residing in the community before approving any license for Orion Agro Industries.
Another protester Amsat Abiodun, who spoke in Yoruba said the community has not benefited anything in terms of cooperate social responsibility since it’s inception.”We the host community here does not feel the impact of this company in our area, we want it relocated or its license withdrawn because of the grave danger it poses to public healths and our cultural values.Secretary of the Coalition, Hammed Abisola said that the youths are against the location of the cigarette factory because of its proximity to a institution of higher learning.
“Young people are influence by things around them, so producing ciggerate in our enviroment is indirectly encouraging us to smoke and we all know that the government has warned that smokers are liable to die young. So we are calling on Mr President as a father who will not like his children to die young to immediately direct the Custom boss to stop futher approval for this factory.”
Protesters in their large numbers carried various placards with inception like: Col. Hammed Ali, No to renewal of Import license to Orion Agro Industries; Community Youths saysNo CSR, No import license to press further their demands.
Although no official of the company was on ground to respond to the protesters, an insider said the firm will react at the right time, stressing that all efforts are in top gear to ensure cigarette production commence once it get its necessary approvals.