By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Following heightened, unscrupulous activities of artisan miners in the two councils of Paikoro and Shiroro of Niger State, the government on Wednesday slammed an immediate ban on all exploration in all parts of the councils.
In recent times, there has been massive influx of persons, mostly from Mali, Chad, Senegal and Niger’ who are engaged in mining activities.
Findings suggests that these foreigners settled mostly in interior parts of the places where they take up residence and are hardly seen at day times or for days.
Some of them returned days or a week later and disappear again as they return to miming sites where they stay and work into the nights excavating the earth in search of raw gold and other precious stones beneath the earth crust.
The illegal mining activities according to a government statement, have led to wide spread environmental degradation, increase in insecurity
The state government in a statement made available from the office of the Secretary to the State Government, (SSG), Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, said the breakdown of security and environmental degradation necessitated the suspension order.
The statement said the environmental degradation and growing insecurity caused by the activities of such illegal miners in communities in the areas, had reached an alarming stage, requiring urgent attention to bring back sanity in the affected local governments.
It said, “protecting the sanctity of life and property of the citizens remains irrevocable.
It added that the present administration in the state state will not scale down the pressure on the armed bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers as well as illegal miners besetting the state until they were totally degraded and flushed out of the state.
The state government appealed for the cooperation of all registered Nigerian Miners through their association in the state, local communities for understanding. It also begged traditional and religious leaders within the affected areas to cooperate with the security agencies with a view to rid the state of criminal elements.
The state government had previously banned all mining activities in parts of the state but it appeared the order was ineffective as activities of artisan miners continued.
Beside the involvement of nationals of some African country, locals in some affected communities confirmed that persons believed to be Chinese, Kuwaiti nationals and Lebanese Nigerians were involved in illegal mining activities in parts of the state with the active connivance of their Nigerian partners.
Even in some locations within the state capital, especially around Kampani, Shango, Gurara, Gbeganu, College of Education area, Tungan Goro, Korokpa and the Three Arms Zone, the presence of illegal miners is an opened secret.
Some vast portions of the lands at the outskirts of the Chanchaga, Maitumbi, Soje, Shango, behind JAMB office, WEAC office and behind Federal Government College area at Tungan Goro have been ransacked and upturned by artisan miners in search of gold deposits.