Written by Godfrey AKON

Illegal mining: FG vows to prosecute culprits

As activities of illegal miners continue to rob Nigeria of its natural resources, the federal government has vowed to prosecute foreign illegal miners recently arrested in Zamfara and Osun States.

 

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, who dropped the hint at a news conference in Abuja, said the ministry was working with the country’s judiciary to carry out the prosecution to serve as a deterrent to others wishing to engage in similar acts.

While stating that despite the ban on illegal mining activities in Zamfara since February 2019, some illegal mining activities were still going on in the state, especially by foreign nationals, Adegbite expressed worry that the illegal miners hid under local artisanal miners in the country to perpetrate their act.

According to him, foreign nationals, who had been identified included Chinese, Burkinabe, and Senegalese among others, adding that the Chinese nationals in particular, lured artisanal miners with money to work for them.

“We are going to go diplomatic by interacting with the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria so that it does not seem like we are unfairly targeting their people; we will present the facts to them so that they can also make sure they keep these people in check,’’ he said.

While explaining that illegal mining persisted in the country, especially by foreigners because there had not been any prosecution of culprits, the minister said that the collaboration of state governments was, however, needed to address the situation effectively.

Adegbite, who disclosed that about 17 foreign illegal miners had so far been apprehended in Osun while two were apprehended in Zamfara, added that they would be prosecuted at the Federal High Court.

He said as part of the efforts to curb illegal mining activities in the country, the ministry was considering the need to register all local and foreign miners, adding that the ministry was also in the process of registering all artisanal miners in the country since the government had decided to bring them into the sector’s mainstream.

Adegbite noted that the illegal foreign miners carried out their activities with the active connivance of Nigerians, saying that no foreigner could come into the country for illegal mining without conniving with Nigerians.

“A lot of our people erroneously accept these people, invite them because they believe they can help them with equipment to increase their wins,’’ he said.

 

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