By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA—Miners Association of Nigeria, MAN, yesterday claimed the bandits and illegal miners were mostly from neighboring countries of Burkina-Faso, Chad, Niger and Ghana armed with sophisticated weapons were responsible for the killings and other crimes in Zamfara state.
MAN in a statement by the National President, Kabir Kankara, expressed concern over the spate of killings in the state, lamenting that the ban on foreign and illegal miners by the Federal Government, came too late.
Kankara said prior to the ban MAN had at different fora and through various channels raised the alarm that its members who hold legitimate mining titles with huge investments in the affected areas were practically chased out by these fully armed bandits.
He said:”On Sunday, 7th April, 2019, the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammad Adamu, addressed a Press Conference, banning mining activities in Zamfara State as one of the measures to curb the increasing spate of insurgencies, banditry and general insecurity which had reached a boiling point in the gold-rich hinterland of the State. Prior to this action, Miners Association of Nigeria had, at different fora and through various media, echoed the cries of our members who hold legitimate mining titles with huge investments in the affected areas, but had practically been chased out by these fully armed bandits.
“The Association views this action coming from the government a bit behind schedule. The government, through its regulatory and security agencies, owes it a duty to protect the lives and investments of her legitimate licensees. This duty becomes more compelling in the mining sector because of the peculiarity of its operations which take place mostly far into the jungle and away from civilization. However, having said that much, the Association welcomes any measure aimed at restoring the sanctity of human lives and the security of the investments of our members who have been legitimately licensed by the government supervisory and regulatory agencies.
“Field reports have it that these armed-bandits-turned-illegal-miners are mostly from neighboring countries of Burkina-Faso, Chad, Niger and even, Ghana. The level of their reported sophistication in weaponry can only point at the backing of powerful sponsors and patrons both local and foreign. We therefore expect our security apparatus to beam their searchlights on such people and make no sacred cow of anyone or group that may be found culpable in the commission of these murderous crimes and economic sabotage.
“But we equally noted that no timeline is attached to each of these activities. This lacuna is of concern to us, as we fear the “OPERATION PUFF-ADDER” turning into an Army of Occupation, staying till infinity and denying our members their legitimate returns on investments, which are collateralized funds with terms. Therefore, attaching a “TIMETABLE” to the operation’s agenda is a necessity.”