Business is booming.

EDITORIAL: Illegal Mining: It’s Time To Go After The Godfathers

Two weeks ago, when we are considering which one to use among possible cover stories in our ‘News Bank’ (there are always many), one that caught our attention was the flourishing illegal mining across the country.

Illegal miners have been operating across the country for long without hindrance. One good example was that of illegal mining activities on the land belonging to Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State.

At least eleven (11) miners who operate freely on the university land. They claimed they are in possession of a mining certificate issued by the Federal Government claiming they are not illegal miners.

The management of the school don’t believe the people pilfering the precious stones under the OAU land territory are legitimate miners and the management contacted the relevant ministry.

Intervention of the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development put on hold the mining activities on the university land.
Illegal miners extract natural minerals such as tin, diamond and gold (precious stones) in their rawest form and also smuggled them out of the country to buyers who are willing without any interception by the Nigerian Customs Service securities.

It is a fact that illegal mining is a multi million naira illegal business thriving in the country. It is a business engaged in by some powerful and well connected Nigerians in connection with foreign nationals.

Illegal mining activities is a growing socio-economic challenge in Nigeria. It is rampant in Zamfara State in the Northwest and Osun State in the Southwest of the country. Illegal miners are saboteurs of the nation’s economy.

Their activities have led to untimely death of many people as a result of pollution of streams and rivers nearby their immediate area of operation and environmental degradation of their vicinity.

Their illegal operations have also led to loss of ecosystems and increased poverty level especially among peasant farmers who depend solely on environmental resources for a living.

Some weeks ago, the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development inaugurated Miners Marshals towards putting a stop to illegal mining activities across Nigeria. This is a welcome idea. We support this initiative by the Federal Government.

However, we urged the government to go beyond setting up Miners Marshals who can only go after and arrest only the field workers employed by the powerful people known to be sponsors (financiers) of illegal mining and their foreign collaborators.

Nigeria can win the ‘war’ against illegal mining only if the Nigerian Government can go after not only the laborers working as illegal miners but the illegal mining godfathers and the syndicate behind the thriving illegal acts until they are forced to abandon illegal mining activities.

If one among the godfathers who are neck-deep in illegal mining could be arrested, tried in law court and found guilty of the offense as charged, such individual should be brought to justice and all movable and immovable properties gotten through illegal mining be forfeited to the government to serve as deterrent to others.


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