The federal government has given a 30-day ultimatum to illegal miners to join artisanal cooperatives or face the wrath of the law.
Addressing newsmen Sunday in Abuja, the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dele Alake, said from October, a rejuvenated security regime will become active in the solid minerals sector and would include the Mine Police, sourced from the Nigeria Police and specially trained to detect illegal mining and apprehend offenders.
He also announced that the ministry has commenced a review of the Nigerian Mining Act in comparison with economies that have recorded significant achievements in foreign direct investment in mining to introduce international best practices.
The minister said in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Solid Minerals Ministry is mandated to develop the solid minerals sector by learning from the achievements and mistakes of the domestic hydrocarbon petroleum industry and applying international best practices.
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He said, “It is obvious that the government’s strategy for the development of the sector has been driven by the accommodation and mainstreaming of artisanal miners. However, despite these generous and patriotic gestures, there still exist those who have defied all entreaties to join co-operatives and be formalised.
“They prefer to continue to operate as illegal miners. For the last time, let me declare that the ministry is giving such persons 30 days grace to join a miners’ co-operative or find another vocation to do. On the expiration of the period, the full weight of the law will fall on anyone seen on a mining site without a determinable status.”
Meanwhile, a researcher at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Abuja, Prof. Peter Akper, said Nigeria is losing huge amounts of revenue in the mining sector due to a lack of coordination among the tiers of government.
He said this yesterday in Abuja at the 19th African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD)/Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) bi-annual leadership lecture and graduation ceremony of the 19th set of Centre LSD Leadership School.
Thirty-six persons were awarded certificates, making it a total of 2,122 students that graduated so far since 2009 from the centre.
Akper said the mining sector cannot be left as an open field where operators come and go without control, and also should not be developed as an enclave.
“Its operations must align with the developmental agenda of the country and be governed in a way that guarantees maximum benefits for the people. Since Nigeria is a federation, the three tiers of government have their respective roles to play in the exploitation of the natural resources of the country,” Akper said.
The founding Executive Director of the Centre, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, said though Africa is endowed with lots of natural resources, the resources have become a curse instead of a blessing, leading to poverty, misery, conflict, political instability and underdevelopment, due to poor leadership.