Shouldn’t Nigerians be able to buy beer at all hours? asked the Lagos Daily Champion in an editorial. Jonah Jang, governor of the central state of Plateau, thinks not. In a “drastic attempt to tackle criminality and other malfeasance,” Jang has restricted the sale of alcohol to the hours of 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. At first glance, limiting beer sales seems like a great idea—particularly “considering the high level of daylight and nighttime mayhem” that alcohol-fueled criminals wreak across Nigeria. And as Jang pointed out, bandits tend to gather at bars before they go forth to steal or kill. Still, Nigeria has a “secular, free-market system.” Why should we punish the bars and liquor stores because a few of their customers are unsavory? And why tar all beer drinkers with the same brush? Decreeing when citizens may purchase legal products and when they may not smacks of “the arbitrary, whimsical acts of a monarch.” Perhaps the best argument against the restriction, though, is that it could easily backfire. By forcing those who sell beer to cut jobs, “is the governor not merely creating another set of economically disenfranchised citizens who might turn to crime to make ends meet?”
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