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Taraba govt moves to stop illegal miners

The Taraba State government has said it has lost billions of naira to illegal mining over the years.   This is a result of activities of…

The Taraba State government has said it has lost billions of naira to illegal mining over the years.  

This is a result of activities of illegal miners who have been conducting mining across the sixteen local government areas of the state for the past several years and the relevant authorities failed to check mate them.  

Past administrations have done very little to curtail such illegal activities and billions in revenue and royalties was lost by the state government.   

Difficult terrain and absence of good road network in the local government areas were said to be a factor in addressing activities of illegal miners.   

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The illegal miners in their hundreds carried mining activities mostly in remote areas located across rivers and mountains in the state.  

Findings showed that foreigners were among the illegal miners who were said to be in their hundreds.  

It was learnt that the foreigners from West African countries as well as those from Asia participate in actual mining with many others serving as dealers in various precious stones including gold.  

A registered miner, Mr Dauda Bulus from Plateau State, said Taraba State has become very attractive for both registered and illegal miners due to the presence of many mineral resources.  

He said foreigners were also attracted into the state and made millions of naira in the mining business and many of the foreigners have no valid documents and also conducted their activities illegally.  

“In the past years, there were no proper control measures by the government and that was why there was influx of illegal miners, most especially in areas with difficult terrain,” he said.  

An official of Taraba solid mineral department, who will not like his name mentioned, told Daily Trust that Taraba State lost billions of naira in revenue to illegal mining.  

He said areas where illegal mining   is taking place include Sardauna, Karim_Lamido, Yorro, Bali, Gashaka, Kurmi and Ussa local government areas.   

He said illegality, especially in gold and sapphire, has been going on in these areas over years.  

“In Yorro, Sardauna and Karim_Lamido Bali and Gashaka local areas, precious stones were exploited illegally, and the miners made billions of naira over the years, he said.  

Daily Trust correspondent reports that at a mining site located near Nguroje town in Sardauna Local Government Area, over 2, 000 miners were involved in the illegal mining of Blue Sapphire.  

Blue Sapphire is one of the precious stones which has market value in United States of America, Europe and Asia.  

The Blue Sapphire found in Taraba State is said to be among top best in the world and particularly because of absence of measures in the stone.  

Apart from the Blue Sapphire, which is found in Sardauna, Gashaka, Gassol and Yorro local government areas, there are many other solid minerals that include tantalite, gold and baryte, among others.  

At Nguroje illegal mining site, illegal miners were said to be making over N100 million on a daily basis from sales of Blue Sapphire.   

A combined team of police and soldiers stormed the site seven years ago and dislodged the miners and arrested many of them.   

Sadly, since the dislodgement of the illegal miners from Nguroje site, no further action was taken by the past administrations to control the activities of illegal miners in the state and illegal mining continued.    

However, recently, the new government in the state has initiated measures to deal with the activities of illegal miners.  

On June 29, Governor Agbu Kefas set up a task force on illegal mining in the state under the chairmanship of Retired Brigadier General Jeremiah Faransa.  

The governor also suspended all mining activities in the state and directed the task force to arrest and prosecute any person or group of persons engaged in mining in any part of the state.   

The task force has so far arrested over 3000 suspected illegal miners.  

Findings by Daily Trust showed that those arrested included about 20 nationals of some West African countries including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Chad.  

Some of the arrested miners have already been arraigned before the court in Jalingo.   

However, the arrests have pitched the task force against miners operating in the area.  

While the task force said the suspects were arrested while operating in the state illegally, the association of miners in the North East claimed that the arrests were made outside the state.  

According to the task force, the suspects were arrested at a location in Bali Local Government Area but Association of Miners in the North East zone said the site is in Toungo Local Government Area of Adamawa State.  

The association also claimed that its members were manhandled by security agents working with the task force while gold worth millions of naira was also seized from the miners.  

The association, therefore, called for immediate release of its members since they were conducting their mining activities legally on Adamawa soil and have fulfilled all the provisions of law before embarking on their lawful activities.   

Addressing newsmen in Jalingo recently, Salisu Shaibu Maizare, Secretary of Association of Nigeria Miners North_East zone, said it was very wrong for Taraba State Task Force on Illegal Mining to forcefully encroach into Adamawa and arrest the miners who were carrying out their legitimate activities in a land which does not belong to them.  

“Adamawa State government is fully aware of our activities while all the traditional rulers were fully informed of our presence because we had the valid documents and approval for mining activities before we entered the area,” he said.   

According to the zonal secretary, the site where its members were carrying out the mining activities before their arrest was at the border between Taraba and Adamawa states, adding that the site is located in Toungo Local Government Area of Adamawa State which shared a boundary with Bali Local Government Area in Taraba State.   

“We as an association would never support illegal mining in any form, and we welcome well-intended reforms in the mining but however due process should be followed in implementing such reforms.  

“It was wrong for the task force to arrest miners from Adamawa soil and bring them to Taraba for prosecution,’’ he said.  

Maizare advised the Taraba State government to make proper findings to ascertain the location of the site where the miners were arrested from.   

He said the task force was misled to enter the mining areas to arrest the miners and dislodge the over three thousand miners whose whereabouts are still unknown.  

The secretary urged the task force to release those arrested and are in the custody of Nigeria Civil Defence Corps as well as those already charged to court in the interest of peace and justice.   

Governor Kefas, through his Senior Assistant on Media and Digital Communication, Mr Emmanuel Bello, commended the task force for doing a good job of dislodging illegal miners from the sites where they were conducting their illegal activities.   

Kefas said the government was not stopping mining but those in the business must conduct their mining activities legally.   

The governor said the task force’s effort to dislodge illegal mining is to give way for legal miners to conduct their mining activities without hindrance. 

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