A few days after WikkiTimes uncovered a disturbing pattern of terrorism funding and illegal mining by Chinese-affiliated miners in Niger State, the state government on Monday said it had commenced profiling of miners across the state.
The week-long investigation, WikkiTimes understands, 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.
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.
Local miners told WikkiTimes that terrorists loyal to Dogo Gide had been bribed several times. Motorcycles were also delivered to the terrorists, they said, adding the terrorists were being paid N3 million on a weekly basis. Kurebe had suffered persistent banditry attacks and endured radical campaigns by ISWAP fighters.
WikkiTimes got an insight into the companies’ collaboration with the terrorists through an exclusively obtained audio conversation where one Ibrahim Usman Adam, one of the leading actors involved in coordinating illegal mining in the axis, confessed that they had to dialogue with Dogo Gide’s mother before operations could begin at the sites.
Although the indicted actors denied funding terrorism and illegally operating in the area, our evidence-based investigation proved them otherwise.
PROFILING OF MINERS
The state government under the leadership of Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago noted that the decision was taken following reports that the miners were paying bandits and terrorists in the state.
Bago had alleged that banditry in the state persists due to unchecked mining activities in the affected communities.
Garba Sabo Yahaya, Commissioner for Mineral Resources, on Monday, told journalists in Minna that the ministry had received a petition accusing miners of paying bandits to allow them access to the mining sites. WikkiTimes in its investigation, reported that the Kurebe Youth Development Association (KUYUDA) had petitioned the ministry about how the companies are plundering resources in the community.
“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 quickly locate them,” the commissioner had said. “Also, there is information from some quarters that miners are sponsoring bandits. People alleged that they pay bandits to allow them to do their mining business. So, profiling them will enable us to know who is who and his location and if the need be, we will be able to trace him.”
Reacting, Chairman, Niger State Miners Association of Nigeria, Muhammad Mambo, said the decision taken by the state government was a good step, but 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, according to Daily Trust.