…As govt orders closure of all illegal mining sites in Plateau
15 August 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Following an order from the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for the clampdown on illegal mining activities in the country, eight Chinese nationals have been arrested in Plateau State for alleged illegal mining.
The National Security Adviser, NSA, Ali Monguno, ordered the arrest of the miners on Monday at Kampani Zurak village in Bashar chiefdom of Wase Local Government Area of the state.
Also arrested were 12 other Nigerians allegedly involved in illegal mining activities in the area. The 20 illegal miners have been taken into the custody of the police in Jos.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who was in the company of the NSA to the mining sites, said the foreigners and their accomplices would be taken to Abuja. He also directed an immediate closure of illegal mining sites in Plateau.
The minister also declared the alleged chief miner, Abdullahi Usman, popularly known as “Dan China”, wanted.
He said the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, had directed that illegal mine sites in the area be sealed up and the miners arrested.
According to Kayode, the Federal Government has warned that it will no longer tolerate any act of sabotage on the nation’s economy, adding that the ministry was determined to check illegal mining in the country.
The minister, who described the illegal miners as economic saboteurs, also accused local security operatives of aiding and abetting illegal mining activities in Plateau State.
“It is sad that security operatives are giving them (illegal miners) security cover. If not, why do people guard this site?” the minister said.
“These miners are illegal. Government did not give them permission to do this, they are economic saboteurs. This cannot happen anywhere else in the world and we will not allow it anywhere in Nigeria. We do not want these miners,” Mr. Fayemi told the security agents.
The state governor, Mr. Simon Lalong, while addressing the gathering, said government would sanction any traditional ruler found to have connived with the miners to exploit the community.
Mr. Lalong also threatened to transfer the divisional police officer in charge of Wase Local Government Area for allowing the illegal miners excavate the land.
Mr. Lalong, who was visibly furious over the activities of the miners, alleged that the miners excavate minerals from the site worth N5 billion monthly.
Reacting to the arrest of the illegal miners, the member of the House of Representatives for Wase, Idris Maje, urged that the arrested miners be brought to book.
He advised that the sites be guarded against further saboteurs.
In his address to the minister, the chairman of Bashar Chiefdom Community Development Association, Zakari Mohammed, alleged that there was N15 billion worth of minerals at the depot of the miners.
“There are over 150 truckloads of lead zinc material valued at over N15 billion at the depot of these illegal miners, which are yet to be moved out as a result of restrictions by the community.”
Mr. Mohammed said the the only source of potabe water of the host community of the mineral had been contaminated due to mining activities.
The federal commissioner of the Public Complaint Commission in charge of Plateau State, Musa Adamu, who hails from the community, told journalists that at least 10 persons from the community had died of cholera disease due to contaminated water.
“In 2014, this community lost over 10 people due to contaminated water following activities of the illegal miners,” he said.
The site manager of Geotexx Mining Company, Chidi Onoyima, who was also accused of the illegality, however debunked the claims of the community.
Mr. Oniyima, who escaped arrest, said his company had suspended excavation due to a court case against it by the community.
Officials of Solid Unit Nigeria Limited, a company allegedly owned by Abdullah Usman, also known as “Dan China”, the alleged kingpin of illegal mining in the area, were arrested by the police.