….Urges illegal miners to formalise operations
By Gabriel Ewepu
THE Miners Association of Nigeria, MAN, has hailed the Federal Government’s arrest of 16 Chinese and eight Nigerians over illegal mining activities in Plateau State.
This commendation was made by the National President of MAN, Alhaji Sani Shehu, when he told Vanguard that the move by the government was a good omen and hope for the sector, which was the biggest clamp down on criminals in the industry’s history.
He stated that with the sanity measures the government has put in place the industry would soon be free fromall forms of illegality that have bedevilled its progress and development over the years. He said: “We support the action of the government on the arrest of 16 Chinese and eight Nigerians in Plateau State as a welcome development. We as an association support the action of the government because the aim of sanction is to serve as deterrent.
“The degree of impunity in the mining industry is perhaps second to none, because everybody does what he likes, cartels here and there, a lot of illegality displayed here and there, and to the extent that even foreigners come in to do mining illegally and nobody cares. It is like no man’s land where one does whatever he wants to do.
Now that the government has started acting we think it must have sent signal that illegality would not continue to be in the mining industry forever. We are appealing that let the government maintain and sustain the tempo. We are happy that this illegality is not done by those labourers who use hoes and shovels, diggers and head pans but this is seen in foreign illegal miners.”
He also disclosed that the arrest of the illegal miners in Plateau was a collective operation by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development and National Security Adviser after the Ministry did surveillance thrice at the large illegal mining site in Zurak, Wase Local Government of Plateau State. “The action was a collective operation by the National Security Adviser and Minister of Mines and Steel Development, but was led by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development. The Minister has been on surveillance of the place three times before the operation in order for these illegal miners not to flee into the bush and evade arrest. So it was a kind of tip off.
“This operation and arrest was the biggest arrest done in the history of the mining industry in Nigeria. We urge all illegal operators in the industry to legalise their operation while government simplifies the legalisation process so that it can be easily done.”
According to the miners boss their aspiration has been that as every sector makes progress, the progress in the mining sector starts with legality and unlike sectors like agriculture where people just start cultivation without contacting the government or going through any process, the mining sector is rule governed and the earlier people follow the law the better, because all incentives are now linked to legality. Any illegal miner or operator would not benefit from any support coming from the government.