By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
With immediacy, governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State has ordered a stop of all activities by artisans miners in parts of the state.
The measure is aimed at curbing rising tides of banditry and criminality believed to be the handiworks of such elements involved in illegal exploitation of solid mineral resources from the ground.
The governor on Thursday announced the immediate suspension of all mining activities in and around Gurmana area of Shiroro council area, at Unguwan Kampani, the outskirts of eastern By-pass, at the Three Arms Zone, the M. I. Wushishi Housing Estate area, at the College of Education, Minna in Shango area, at the Army Barracks all in Minna and at Lapan – Gwari area under Bosso council area of the state.
A statement issued by Secretary to the State Government, (SSG), Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, the government said the decision to suspend mining activities had become necessary following increased security challenges, health and environmental hazards and the spread in the use of illicit drug, peddling and gangsterism in the areas and communities adjoining such places where mining activities take place.
The statement further explained that the suspension of mining activities in the areas mentioned followed intelligence reports that clearly established a strong and glaring nexus between the activities of bandits, prostitution, gangsterism and illegal miners with both mutually reinforcing each other.
The statement further warned that any mining operator caught engaging in mining activities henceforth, in the areas mentioned, would face the full wrath of the law.
The government statement stressed that the present administration in the state was leaving no stone unturned in bringing out strategies that would bring lasting solutions, as well as forestall any breach of security in the state.
It urged citizens across the state to be security conscious in view of the plurality in criminalities in the state. It advised citizens to promptly report any suspicious character, movements or objects in their communities to security agents for the good of all.
The statement quoted the Secretary to the State Government as appealing for the cooperation of the Nigeria Mining Association in the state, all local communities, especially traditional and religious leaders within the communities where mining activities are taking place so show understanding over the state government’s stance.
It would be recalled that about penultimate week ago, the state government had disclosed that it had gone into partnership with a private sector player for the exploration of solid mineral resources especially in gold prospecting in parts of the state.
However, observers were of the opinion that the state’s latest stance on artisan miners may not be far connected to the government’s earlier partnership with a private sector player for the exploration of gold deposits across the state.
By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna