Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has ordered the immediate suspension of all illegal mining activities in some parts of the state.
The governor gave the order yesterday at the Benue Peoples House in Makurdi at an emergency security interface with stakeholders drawn from Kwande Local Government Area over illegal mining of gold in the area.
Ortom warned that illegal mining poses security and environmental threats to not just Kwande LGA but the entire state if allowed to fester.
He, therefore, revoked all rights granted to mining racketeers by some communities within Benue State territory, warning that anyone caught indulging in or abating illegal mining activities will be prosecuted.
The governor explained that although mining is in the exclusive list controlled by the federal government, the lands where mining would be done are held by the governor in trust for the people of the state, emphasising that due process must be followed in carrying out mining.
The governor stated that prospective licenced miners would be adequately profiled before they will be allowed to carry out any mining activity in the state to check the infiltration of criminal elements.
He commended the Kwande LGA Chairman, Hon. Orjiir Gbande, for being at alert and drawing his attention to the security and environmental threats posed by the illegal mining activities in the Turan and Kyurav axis of the LGA.
The governor further cautioned traditional rulers in the area to refrain from unlawfully ceding lands to prospective miners, stressing that only the state government had the rights to approve lands for use by anyone for such purpose.
Ortom further urged the elites to get involved and sensitise their communities on the impending dangers of allowing unauthorised persons access to their communities for the purpose of mining.
The Senator representing Benue North-East senatorial district, Gabriel Suswam, who also attended the meeting, tasked the Benue people on the unity of purpose to overcome the security challenges confronting the state.
Suswam equally appealed to traditional rulers, especially those from Kwande LGA to be security conscious so as not to harbour criminal elements who may infiltrate their communities to exploit the available mineral resources.
He particularly charged Kwande elites to
also enlighten their people on the negative consequences of allowing strange persons unhindered access to the communities.
However, the Chairman, Kwande LGA, Hon. Orjiir Gbande, in his remarks, pledged to ensure that his people heed to the governor’s warning concerning the issue of illegal mining.