Oscarline Onwuemenyi, with agency reports
08 February 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Plateau Commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals Development, Mr Abdullahi Abbas, has said that illegal mining was posing “a massive” threat to food security in Plateau.
Abbas disclosed this on Monday in Jos, after a closed door meeting held with traditional heads in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the meeting focused on the menace of illegal mining.
According to him, most lands have been converted to mining fields by illegal miners.
“If left unchecked, in the next 10 years, people will have no lands to grow crops.
“This act is very worrisome. It has lots of ills associated with it but the threat to food security is one we cannot play with.
“In the next 10 years, there will be no land to grow crops and we may have to resort to going to other states to lease lands to grow our crops,” the commissioner lamented.
He said that other consequences included an increase in the number of school dropouts and increase in the consumption of illicit drinks and drugs in a bid to mobilise strength for the act of mining.
The commissioner added that loss of revenue to the state government was also a consequence as the miners were unlicensed.
He said that his meeting with the traditional heads was to sensitise them on the ills of their youths engaging in the act of illegal mining and to rub minds with them on the way forward.
“We expect these leaders to sensitise their various communities and encourage those who wanted to be miners to go about it rightfully, by obtaining a license.”
He pointed out that solid minerals on a piece of land did not belong to the land owner but to the Federal and state governments.
The commissioner said that anyone, who wanted to mine, had to obtain a mining license and pay royalty to the federal and the state governments.
“Mining is a legal business; anybody who is interested in it should approach the appropriate authorities for license instead of doing it illegally.
“Illegal mining constitutes uncontrollable environmental hazards and we must guard against it,” he said.
Meanwhile, ten people have been killed in a clash involving two groups of illegal miners at Gero Village in Gyel District of Jos South Local Government.
According to the Plateau Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, miners from Gero arrived a lucrative mining spot around their village, but met miners from Bassa already at the site.
“When they met at the site, a fight ensued and six people were killed instantly,” NSCDC spokesperson, Naomi Cishak, told reporters on Tuesday.
She said that four more corpses were later discovered at the scene of the clash.
The NSCDC official, however confirmed that normalcy had been restored to the area.
“The clash has ended; we have been trying to bring the two groups together to discuss the path to
peace so as to forestall a recurrence,” she said.
The state government has described the incident as “very sad”, and advised illegal miners to stay away from the fields.
“The security agencies have been given the nod to arrest anyone found; no one caught will be spared,” Director of Press Affairs, Emmanuel Nanle, said.
“It is sad that people engaged in illegal mining are committing another illegality – killing. Nobody should take our simplicity for granted and try to disrupt the peace we are enjoying,” he warned.
Mr. Nanle said that some arrests had been made, adding that calm had since returned to the affected communities.