Barely two weeks after WikkiTimes uncovered a disturbing pattern of terrorism funding and illegal mining by Chinese-affiliated miners in Niger State, the Federal Government has issued a warning to foreign operators who sponsor banditry in order to execute illegal mining in the country.
The Minister, Dr Oladele Alake, issued the warning when a delegation of the Nigeria-China Chamber of Mines led by its National President, Dr.Olugbenga Ajala paid him a courtesy visit in his office at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.
A statement signed by the ministry’s Head, Press & PR, Alaba Balogun, on Friday, noted that the federal government has given illegal miners 30 days grace to become legitimate to continue in their trade.
The investigation discovered that, in their desperate exploration for mineral resources and glaring intent to plunder them, the foreign-allied miners operating under the licences of Eso Terra Investment Limited and Majelo Global Resources Limited continued to mine illegally in Kurebe, a banditry and insurgency-ravaged community in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State.
This was despite the strong presence of the Dogo Gide bandits faction and insurgents loyal to the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), a breakaway faction of Boko Haram.
“The government will come down firmly on these unscrupulous foreign operators sponsoring banditry to perpetrate illegal mining: let me use this medium to appeal through you to tell those sponsors to desist or face the full wrath of the law,” the minister said.
Alake said the ministry is committed to establishing a multi-agency task force that will end the activities of illegal miners and their collaborators.
According to him, this will help “to streamline and structure the Small-Scale Artisanal Miners for maximum yield to the Federal Government.”
WikkiTimes understands, that the week-long investigation also propelled other banditry-torn states — Kebbi and Zamfara — to ban mining activities as authorities cited a nexus between the unending insecurity and illegal mining.
A few days after the story, the Niger state government on Monday said it had commenced profiling of miners across the state.
His wife, Nafisat, friend, Mustapha Gangare and WikkiTimes reporters Usman Babaji and Rabiu Tahir Musa were contacted by the police officer identified as Inspector Mohammed Hamza of Bauchi State Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The officer claimed that a signal was sent from Niger Police Command. The reporter, Babaji honoured the invitation on Wednesday.