*FG probes how he got licence
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
A retired General is in trouble over his alleged refusal to comply with the total ban on gold mining imposed on Zamfara State by the Federal Government in a bid to stem banditry and other violent attacks in the state.
The retired military bras, said to be wielding enormous influence and power within and outside Zamfara State, is believed to have been placed under security watch over his uncontrolled gold-mining operations, which are said to be aiding and abetting banditry in the state.
He is said to be, particularly, deploying suspicious elements from within and outside the country to conduct his bustling mining operations in defiance of anti-banditry measures rolled out by the state and federal authorities following the spike in insecurity in the state.
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A top security source connected with monitoring the alleged activities of the decorated military officer told Vanguard that the man had breached all federal and state measures put in place to checkmate illegal mining in the state and reduce threats to security of lives and property.
The retired military officer is said to have, in defiance of the ban, continued to engage in wanton gold mining and illegal flights as well as the deployment of questionable characters to mine and provide protection for his illegal operations.
Asked why the Zamfara Governor, who is the chief security officer of the state, has not taken action against the former military top brass, the top official explained that the governor was hapless in the circumstance given the fact that the retired officer was among the key sponsors of many of the current set of political leaders in the state.
“I can tell you that the governor of Zamfara State is helpless or in a dilemma because most of the people in the cabinet were brought into government by the man spearheading illegal mining and breaching all anti-banditry measures put in place by the state governor and the Federal Government,” the official said last night.
“The governor is rather concerned that the man, who should act as a father and statesman, is unfortunately pursuing selfish pursuits that are endangering the lives of everyone in Zamfara State.
“But as a first step towards reining in the retired military officer and his alleged mining activities in the state, the Federal Government, it was learnt, has ordered the immediate audit of all licences issued to individuals and corporate organisation for gold-mining in Zamfara.”
In the main, Vanguard also learned, the renewed probe ordered by the Federal Government is to establish whether or not the licenses were legally issued and whether the licensees have complied effectively with the rules of engagement attached to the licenses.
Meanwhile, a top security agent involved in the case said, “The ultimate goal of the audit ordered by the Federal Government is to stop the General and all those deploying insecurity to promote their operations at the expense of the state.
“While those who are engaging in illegal mining without license or using bandits to promote their operations at the expense of lives are to be summarily tried for treasonable offences, those who are mining illegally are to be seriously deal with and flushed out of the state.”.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on March 2, 2021, slammed a no-fly-zone order on Zamfara and also banned gold mining activities in the state until further notice.
The Federal Government also on September 6, 2021 suspended mobile phone networks in the state all in a bid to frustrate violent attacks by organised gangs of bandits.