The Zamfara State Government has accused unpatriotic elites and politicians from past administrations of fueling illegal mining which is also linked to banditry in the state.
The Chairman, Zamfara State Anti Illegal Mining Committee, Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi, made the allegation on a Channels TV Programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’
Governor Bello Matawalle whose party is the Peoples’ Democratic Party, on Tuesday inaugurated the committee after he observed that illegal mining activities had continued in the State despite the ban which had been in place since 2019.
Shinkafi said, “We want to holistically reimpose the ban on mining activities in Zamfara State. The problem we are having in the North-West is that 80 per cent of the mining sites are occupied by artisanal and illegal miners. A lot of revenues and royalties are lost or are going the hands of these illegal miners and some unpatriotic elites in the state.
“Some top politicians who were in the immediate past government are directly or indirectly involved in illegal mining. It is on record that the Vice State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Zamfara State was arrested for aiding and abating armed banditry. He was arrested by the Army, he was arrested by the Department of State Services, he was arrested by the Police.”
In April 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari had banned illegal mining on concerns that illegal mining was connected to a surge in banditry in the state.
The ban was estimated to affect the means of livelihood of 100,000 artisanal miners in the state.
About 500 kg of gold per month is illegally smuggled out of Nigeria, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, said in an interview in January 2020.
The amount is currently valued about $29.96m which means billions is lost in tax.
At the current price, a Kg of gold is valued $ 59,919.69.
Chinese firms and artisan miners have been found guilty of violating the ban in the state with some paraded by the Nigerian Police Force.
Apart from revenue losses, the lawmaker alleged that there is a link between the miners and banditry.
The Presidential ban is still in place, but the State Government set up the committee when activities are not supposed to go on in the sites.
“The ban is still in force, but what am trying to tell you is that in Nigeria there are a lot of lawless people in this country. I have said it earlier some Chinese nationals were arrested last year for going on with this illegal mining in Zamfara despite the ban by the Federal Government.
“And still there are some lawless people who have been going on with this illegal mining activities,” he noted.
He said mining is under the exclusive list of the constitution and under the direct supervision of the FG.
The Chairman said, “If the government has enforced a ban, then the state government has no right whatsoever to lift the ban and the ban remain in force pending when the Federal Government lifts the ban.”
Shinkafi reiterated that the ban was for both legal and illegal miners in the state.
The Chairman of the FG Mining Road Map Implementation Strategy Team, Prof Gbenga Okunola, who also appeared on the programme advised that the state has to fish out the illegal miners from the licensed miners to ensure smooth running of mining and combatting insecurity in the State.
He solicitated for collaboration between the Sate and the Federal Government to combat the security threats arising from illegal mining in the State.
“If we have some political honesty and the political will, the issues can be resolved. Artisanal mining has a place in the Nigerian mining narrative,” Okunola added.