News

June 7, 2024

Senate to FG: Deploy security agents to mining communities in Nigeria

Senate

By Henry Umoru

THE Senate has asked the federal government to as a matter of urgency, deploy security agencies to mining communities across the country as part of moves to maintain vigilance around mining areas and  communities.

The Senate said this move will help  maintain vigilance around mining areas to prevent further incursions and intrusion by informal miners across the country, just as it said that as a country,  we need strict safety measures to curb illegal mining.

According to the Senate, the Federal Government to come out with strict safety measures and regulation on mining activities in Nigeria in line with International Best Practices.

The Senate yesterday observed a minute silence in honour of the  over 30 others who  died at a collapsed mining site in Galadima Kogo, in Shiroro Local Government Area (LGA) of Niger State on Monday.

The Uppper also urged the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA and other relevant agencies of government to expedite actions on the recovery of the remains of the deceased in the catastrophe to ensure that the bereaved families can have final closure.

The Senate thereafter mandated its Committee on Solid Mineral to conduct an on the spot assessment of the Site to ascertain the remote and immediate cause of the rockslide and accelerate the passage of the Mine Ranger Bill currently before the Senate.

The Upper Chamber commended  the Minister of Solid Mineral, Dele Alake for his swift and proactive response in monitoring the situation at the Mining site.

Resolutions of the Senate yesterday were sequel to a motion titled, ” Urgent Need to Address the Incident of the Rockslide that buried alive over 30 Informal Miners in a Gold Mining Site in Farin Doki Community, Shiroro Local Government, Niger State.” It was sponsored by Senator Sani Musa, APC, Niger East.

Presenting the motion, Senator Musa said that “The Senate: Notes that on Monday, 3rd June, 2024, a catastrophic rockslide occurred at the open-pit gold mine, which led to at least over 30 local/informal miners buried alive in the Farin Doki Community, near Erena in Shiroro Local Government, located within the Niger East Senatorial District of Niger State.  The miners, in their quests for gold and lithium minerals, met their untimely deaths, as the avalanche caved in, burying them under tons of rubbles.

“Also notes that this unfortunate and tragic incident underscored the urgent need for comprehensive and holistic action to be taken in order to frontally address the dangers faced and posed by local mining activities taking place across the country.

“Further notes that in view of the vast mineral resources in the region, it is imperative to secure the mining site in order to forestall future occurrence and avoid further loss of life.  This will go a long way to ensure that mining activities are conducted safely and legally to prevent future tragedies and improve the overall well-being of miners across the country;

“Worried that the bodies of the deceased, who are victims of this unfortunate event, are yet to be recovered for proper and dignified burial by their respective families.  To this end, conscious efforts should be made by relevant agencies of government for the recovery of the bodies of the deceased for burial; and

“Aware that at a time like this that Nigeria is desirous of diversifying its economy, the mining sub-sector is lucrative enough, and should be adequately exploited for the socio-economic development of this country.  As such, the appropriate authorities should as a matter of urgency and necessity, initiate thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident so as to identify any existing lapses as they relate to safety regulations and enforcement in the sector. And as part of remedies to bring sanity to the system, strict regulations should be introduced in order to protect the lives of those who depend on this industry for their livelihood.  It is also apt for the relevant Committees of the National Assembly to step up the oversight of mining activities taking place across the country, for the purpose of harnessing the benefits that abound in the mining sector.”

Supporting the motion, Senator Neda imasuen, LP, Edo South who  lamented bitterly over the tragic incident. He appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that Nigerians are lifted from poverty in order to put an end to illegal mining, said, “What happened in Shiroro demonstrates one of those consequences of illegal mining.

“We all know that there is hardship in the country, but our government must pay serious minds to our environment and communities.

“This also demonstrates the physical loss of lives of Nigerians who for whatever reason go into this business.

“There’s no reason why the government will not lift people out of poverty because we are endowed with several minerals.”

In his contribution,  Senator Abdul Ningi, PDP, Bauchi Central who traced the root cause of illegal mining to poverty despite the consequences,  said, “These are scopes to ensure that the government particularly pays attention to the mining sector and if care is not taken, it will spread all over the county.

“Because of the hardship in the country, people get into mining without adequately knowing the repercussions.

“The right things must be done to minimise the issues of these incidents and the casualties that will come after it.”

In his remarks,  the Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, APC, Kano who presided over yesterday’s plenary called for a minute silence in honour of the victims.

The Deputy Senate President,  who noted the consequences of the illegal mining on the communities and the country’s economy, said, “It is unfortunate that this incident occurred in the first place. This intensifies the need for the government to strengthen the regulation of the solid mineral sector. We all know that the government is doing very well in this regard. Still, it has become a cause of concern that we have a lot of illegal miners who are exploiting the resources that belong to the people of this country without paying what is due to the government.

“If that is done, the government will be put in a better place to acquire all the necessary equipment and expertise to solve this problem or even stop it from happening.

“Sadly, the government is being short-changed, and people exploit these minerals owned by the people of this country without paying the necessary fees to the government. This is not what is being done in other parts of the world.

“We need to move to make sure that our solid minerals are exploited in line with international best practices and all and sundry should come together to assist the government in its resolve to deal with this matter decisively, making sure that whatever is due to the government should be paid to the coffers of the government and not allowing even foreigners, to come in and exploit these minerals, taking them to their countries without paying the government what is due to it.

“We need to be up and doing, not only the Solid Minerals ministry but all of us, including the Senate, in trying to see how our solid minerals sector can be operated in line with international best practices and whatever that is supposed to go into the coffers of government goes into the coffers of government.”