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Saturday, 9 May 2020

Powerful Individuals Behind Illegal Mining in Nigeria, Says Mines Minister

Powerful Individuals Behind Illegal Mining in Nigeria, Says Mines Minister

The Federal Government has promised to prosecute the 17 Chinese illegal miners recently apprehended in Osun state, the two caught in Zamfara state and others apprehended for illegal mining to the full extent of the law.

The Government said although the Chinese are the most culpable illegal miners stealing the country’s gold, it is aware that other nationals like Senegalese, Burkinabes etc are also mining illegally and will be dealt with when caught.

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite stated this in Abuja at a press briefing.

He said that the ongoing pandemic has caused the price of other industrial minerals to crash, save for gold which happens to be the safest currency in the world at the moment.

Adegbite said that an ounce of gold is presently being sold for about $1,768 in the International stock market, increasing the importance of gold and the mad rush of illegal mining activities.

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The Minister stated he had met with the Chief Justice of the Federation on the matter who advised he works with the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and the Attorney General to designate some particular courts for accelerated hearing..

He said, “In the last few days, social media has been flooded with apprehending of illegal miners, it was first in Zamfara state then more recently Osun, if you notice the two states are along the gold vein, we know for sure that in Osun state for example a foreign company is already working on the mine there and we have potentials in so many other areas in Osun and Zamfara for gold.

“Because of the ongoing pandemic all over the world, other industrial minerals are not selling so much now because industries that would use them are shut down, also because of the economic problems associated with this pandemic currencies are losing their value so naturally everybody is escaping to gold, right now gold is the safest currency in the world, if you look at the International stock market, the price of gold keeps rising.

” I think the last time i checked it was $1768 to an ounce of gold, this increasing importance of gold and the demand for it has brought about an increase in Illegal activities of mining, I dare say, no foreigner can come into Nigeria to get involved in illegal mining without conniving with our people.

“A lot of our people invite these people as we have said severally we are trying not to criminalize artisanal miners in in the country, who mine so that they can feed but bring them into the fold and it is the activities of artisanal miners that these illegal miners hide under to perpetrate their act.

“Despite the fact that the Federal Government placed a ban on mining activities in Zamfara state early last year, some sort of illegality was still going on especially with foreign nationals.

“The foreign nationals that have been identified are Chinese, Burkinabes, Senegalese etc but particularly the Chinese.

“We have never been able to successfully prosecute any illegal miner in Nigeria so we have written appreciation letters to the governments of the two states who have apprehended these people and urged them to allow us as the body empowered to prosecute these people under the mining act for what they have done.

“States may take them for some misdemeanor like environment but the crux of their crime is illegal mining and only the Federal Government has the mandate in Federal High Court.

“We are taking them to the Federal High Court the case is being complied, in the past they have assumed that we can only bark but not bite.

“We have caught some people and the case often gets lost after a few years and it is not heard again but now, if we are able to prosecute these people successfully, which we intend to do.

” It will send the right signals to others who are doing this. We found out that most of these foreigners involved in this are in the country illegally.

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