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Mining host communities, CSOs want FG to prosecute sponsors of illegal mining 

THE Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities, and Civil Society Coalition on Nigeria’s Mining Sector, Wednesday called on the Federal Government to prosecute sponsors of illegal mining in the country. 

The group said beyond the recent arrest and planned prosection of the 19 foreigners accused of illegal gold mining, prefrential treatments should be avoided.

They said both foreigners and 21 Nigerians involved in the illegal activities in Osun and Zamfara states should be prosecuted accordingly.

Some of the Non-profit Organisations include: Global Rights, Women in Mining, Praxis Centre, Centre for Community Excellence (CENCEX-Zamfara), SilverChip Fox and Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy.

Others are: Follow the Money, CSR-In-Action, Community Enlightenment & Development Initiative, Zamfara, Third Eye, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Neighbourhood Environment Watch Foundation etc.

While they called for speedy prosecution of the suspects, the CSOs reacted to statement of Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, who said the ministry was under pressure from some “godfathers” to release the Chinese culprits, and dismiss the case.

“We therefore hold the federal government to their pledge to ensure the prosecution of all suspects of illegal mining in the country, and call for a full  and  immediate investigation of each case, and where found culpable, the arrest and prosecution of their ‘godfathers’ and enablers,” the group said in a joint statement by Abiodun Baiyewu, Executive Director of Global Rights and Janet Adeyemi, Executive Director, Women in Mining.

Illegal goldminers paraded by the Osun State government Photo Credit: Osun Govt

“The government’s efforts must not end with just knee-jerked arrests and prosecution of foreign illegal miners, it must include concerted efforts to ensure that the avenues through which solid minerals are ferried out of Nigeria without due process are blocked.”

The group further advocated that the FG should end the thriving illicit trade within, and smuggling of solid minerals out of the country, stressing that government policies should support main beneficiaries of such minerals to enhance value, and other monetary benefits of the sector.

The Osun State government last week paraded some Chinese and Nigerians involved in illegal gold mining in the state.

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However, the stakeholders advised government to prepare for the Post Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) by genuinely diversifying the economy.

They urged government to block all leakages in the sector, citing instance that Nigeria loses about $1.54 billion annually from illegal gold exploitation alongside other revenues and royalties.

“More particularly, we ask that the government fulfil its obligations of ensuring the reform of Nigeria’s Minerals and Mining Act and other extant regulations to conform to the ECOWAS mining directive in order to holistically develop the sector.”

The ICIR earlier did a two – part investigation on illegal gold mining in Osun and its implication on the environment and the health of the locals.

The report also highlighted the connivance of traditional rulers with illegal miners.

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