The Coalition of Muslim Students and Youths of Nigeria, Kwara State chapter, yesterday, held a peaceful protest against the renewal of import license to a cigarette-producing factory located within the University of Ilorin community.
Addressing journalists during the protest, state coordinator of the group, Mallam Saadu Billaminu Olawale, called on the Board of Customs and Legal Department to halt the process of renewing import license for Orion Agro Industries Nigeria Limited Ilorin, saying it would negatively impact on more than 20,000 students living in the area.
Olawale said the moral sanity of the university environment should be maintained, stressing that majority of the students in the community are Muslims, 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 filtered to town that this company is about to recommence its 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 cigarettes directly opposite a university, a Islamic faith based institution for that matter. We want the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hammed Ali, to do his 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,” he said.
Another protester, Amsat Abiodun, said the community has not benefited anything in terms of cooperate social responsibility since its inception.
“We, the host community here, do not feel the impact of this company in our area, we want it relocated or its license withdrawn because of the grave danger it poses to public health and our cultural values.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 an institution of higher learning.
“Young people are influenced by things around them, so, producing cigarette in our environment 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 Customs boss to stop further approval of this factory.”
Protesters in their large numbers carried various placards with inscriptions like, “Col Hammed Ali, No to renewal of Import license to Orion Agro Industries”, ”Community Youths says No CSR, no import license”.
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