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Illegal Mining: 17 Chinese Nationals, Others To Face The Full Wrath Of Law, Adegbite

TOYIN ADEBAYO, ABUJA

Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD), has hinted that the 17 Chinese nationals and 10 locals, including a local traditional ruler (Baale) apprehended for illegal mining in Osun and Zamfara states will be charged to court to face the full wrath of the law.

He, however, opined that, if we guard our gold reserves and make sure they are exploited properly, the revenue drive from there is comparable to what oil and gas fetches us.

He added that, there are alot of foreign illegal miners in Nigeria, some of them have only visiting visa and some of them have visas that has expired. what is the status of these people when they come in, he queried.

According to him, “In Osun, 17 foreigners have been apprehended while in zamfara just two of them. We re taking them to the Federal High Court, the case is being compiled. The people caught in zamfara have been transferred to the headquarters, their files are being compiled and we sent to the director of public prosecutions so that we can arraingn them in court so that it serves as deterrence because in the past its assumed that we can only bark and not bite.

“These set of people that have been caught now, we will ask the state to allow us to prosecute them to the maximum extent of the law.

“There are pressure on state government’s especially in Osun that these people should be released because most of these people are working for Nigerians. Nigerians in high positions, Nigerians in authority. But, thank God, the Osun state government’s have so far instituted this spread$, he explained.

He, however, hinted that his ministry will involve his counterpart from Interior ministry to keeps track of all these villains who come into Nigeria and they go back as at when due.

Also, we will go to some international diplomacy, we will be interacting with some embassies especially Chinese because they are the main culprit in this, we have to interact with Chinese embassy in Nigeria so that it would not be as if we are unfair to their people we will present the facts to them so that they also keep these people in check.

He further stated that, they are looking at identifying and registering all the miners in Nigeria both local and foreign ones with their biometrics so that we will identify who and who is operating legally and illegally.

According to him, “We welcome further cooperation from state governors so that in future when we sight or heard of any illegality anywhere, the kind of force that the governors of Osun and Zamfara put up avail us, we will be able to catch this people without escape.

“In conjunction with the foreign affairs ministry we may need to work to get the Dubai authorities to ascertain that any gold that is coming into Dubai must have export certificate from Nigeria, we sign that agreement because United Arab Emirates is the first destination of the gold.

“We will ensure that the certificate is transmitted electronically such that anywhere you go, the customs check their database to ascertain the gold you are exporting and also send an electronic certificate to the Dubai government to check and ask for export certificate. If it’s not legal, they will confiscate the gold and we will share the cost of that maybe on a 70, 30 basis as an incentive to them. Because it left Nigeria illegally, they repatrate 70 Percent to us and 30 for them to make sure we do have people moving gold to Dubai illegally anymore. That’s what we will work on as soon as the lockdown is over.

“These and more we will be implementing gradually as soon as the pandemic is controlled and lockdown is lifted because now when Nigeria oil and gas revenue is dwindling, Nigeria has to focus on agriculture essentially to feed ourselves but the minerals to ean revenue.

“The quantum of gold that is taken out is day light robbery on Nigeria. Our customs need to check our borders. We need to educate our people now that the oil revenue is down,we need to make sure that our wealth is not taken out by the customs and immigration, it is an economic sabotage to allow these people to pass through the borders”, he stressed.

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