…. as NSA declares kingpin wanted
By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA– THE National Security Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, Brig-Gen Babagana Monguno, yesterday, ordered the arrest of 16 Chinese nationals and eight Nigerians involved in massive illegal mining in Zurak, Wase Local Government of Plateau State.
Monguno ordered the arrest during a visit with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, to some illegal mining sites in the richly endowed lead/zinc belt.
NSA also has declared one Alhaji Usman Abubakar (aka Dan China) who has been a notorious illegal mining kingpin in the state. All security agencies have been ordered to arrest the notorious illegal miner for acts seen as economic sabotage.
Chief amongst the illegal miners identified during the visit is Solid Unit Limited, owned by Alhaji Usman Abubakar was declared wanted has bad record for evading law enforcement agencies.
Another illegal mining firm identified was Geotess Nigeria Limited owned by one Dr. Kola Russel Ojo.
Meanwhile, Fayemi declared Zurak special mining zone for lead/zinc in Kampala according to Section 4 of the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act 2007.
He ordered immediate stoppage of all mining activities in the area with the exception of duly licensed miners confirmed by the Mining Cadastre Office.
The Minister also shut down of the operations of Solid Unit Limited and Geotess Nigeria Limited immediately.
Under the Mining Act, the Minister has responsibility to stop mining activities and take any action to ensure orderly development of the mineral resources.
Plateau State Governor, Rt. Hon Simon Lalong, accompanied the Minister and the NSA on the reconnaissance mission to Wase LGA.
While responding, Lalong lamented the deprivation faced by people of Zurak despite the richness of the mineral resources that surround them.
He called on the Federal Government to take necessary measures to curb illegal mining all over Plateau State.
Zurak has been a key location of substantial mineral deposits especially lead, zinc, copper, tin, wolframite, tantalite and other base metals.
Over time, the range of illegal mining activities has been recorded around the Zurak/Wase area leading to a huge loss of revenue, minable land and social displacement of the rural communities.