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The state said culprits would be prosecuted and made to pay compensations.
The ICIR report had exposed how traditional rulers engaged in arbitrary land grab, conniving with illegal gold miners to destroy the ecosystem and natural vegetation in several communities in the South-western state.
Aside from the issues of environmental degradation and health implication, the state government’s inability to check illegal mining was also reported.
Yesterday, the state has finally announced the arrests of suspected culprits including Chinese nationals.
Abdullahi Binuyo, the deputy chief of staff to the state governor, had earlier told The ICIR about the illegal mining activity and its effect on the state.
He also spoke about repeated efforts to summon the traditional rulers, engaging them on the security challenges involved in illegal mining within their communities.
On the 14th December 2019, The ICIR published a similar report on illegal gold mining in neighbouring Ondo state.
Speaking on the arrest, Binuyo said 17 Chinese nationals were among those arrested by the state Joint Task Force (JTF), inaugurated by the state governor, Adegboyega Oyetola.
Osun Govt arrests 27 illegal miners
…17 Chinese, 9 locals, traditional chief to be prosecuted
The Osun State Joint Task Force (JTF), recently inaugurated by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, has apprehended 27 illegal miners, comprising 17 Chinese nationals and 10 locals, pic.twitter.com/jtZVM7elZu
— Government of Osun (@StateofOsun) May 3, 2020
The other 10 accused persons were locals which included a traditional ruler.
“The Osun State Joint Task Force (JTF), recently inaugurated by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, has apprehended 27 illegal miners, comprising 17 Chinese nationals and 10 locals, including a local traditional chief (Baale),” he said.
They were arrested after a joint operation around Ilesa and Ife axis of the State.
He noted that aside from the economic leakages, the illegal miners also polluted the Osun River with poisonous metals, making it unsafe for human consumption and irrigation.
“As part of the government’s economic reforms, solid mineral is a major sector we are looking to explore. For these reforms to work, it has become imperative on the reforms to stop illegal mining and step up enforcement activities. The result is what we are witnessing today,” Binuyo said.
“The people you see here neither have genuine mining licences nor are they registered with the government. What they claim to have is Exploration Licences, which does not allow them to mine, the way they are doing. So we will be prosecuting them and make them pay damages.
“Apart from flouting government’s Covid-19 Order, by refusing to stay at home, they have created an environmental disaster for us, by poisoning our River which is a major public health concern for us, “Binuyo added.
Meanwhile, one of the accused persons, identified as May Zam claimed he was ignorant of the crime for which he was arrested.