Niger State government on Monday commenced the profiling of miners across the state following complaints that miners were paying bandits and terrorists in the state to access mining sites.
Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago had on different occasions alleged that banditry in the state had persisted due to unchecked mining activities in the affected communities.
Garba Sabo Yahaya, Commissioner for Mineral Resources, told newsmen that a petition had been submitted at the ministry accusing miners of paying bandits to allow them access to the mining sites.
“We want to have the actual data of the miners in the state. The profiling will include their location, and when there is intervention from the government, we can easily locate them.
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“Also, there is information from some quarters that miners are sponsoring bandits. People alleged that they pay bandits to allow them do their mining businesses. So, profiling them will enable us know who is who and his location and if the need be, we will be able to trace him,” he said.
But the state Chairman, Miners Association of Nigeria, Muhammad Mambo, who said the decision was a good step, disagreed that miners were paying bandits to access mining sites.
“I want to say without apologies that there is no miner, legally licensed and operating in Niger State that connives or has any affiliation with bandits. No single miner has been arrested for collaborating with bandits or sponsoring bandits.
“The governor can allege that banditry is linked to mining activities but that needs to be proved. I am in support of government profiling miners but there is no record to show any miner conniving with bandits,” he said.
He said 70 per cent of Niger State residents including women and children were into mining as means of survival due to hardship and poverty.