THE Federal Government has set up a task force to begin nationwide crackdown on illegal miners as part of its commitment to diversification of the nation’s economy.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet members also held an anniversary Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, where approval was made for the direct procurement of Nissan four-wheel patrol vehicles for Mines Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who briefed State House correspondents after the FEC meeting, presided over by President Buhari, in Abuja, said this underscored the determination of the Federal Government to begin to focus more seriously on the activities of informal or illegal miners.
He disclosed that the sum of N326,781 million was approved for the direct procurement of 38 vehicles, one for each state of the federation and the FCT and an additional one for Lagos because of its size.
The vehicles, to be purchased from the local assembly plants in Nigeria, have a unit cost of N8.190 million.
Fayemi revealed that a surveillance task force had been established with the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
He said the Federal Executive Council meeting was on Wednesday remarkable, as it marked the one year anniversary of the inauguration of the Council in 2015.
He said: “We will be one year in office in two days time, so this is an anniversary Federal Executive Council meeting. It gave us the opportunity to really reflect on the progress we have made as a government, the challenges that we still have to tackle and the commitment we have to reiterate,” he said.
Fayemi noted that for a decade, no vehicle had been purchased for the mines and steel inspectorate division to oversee what was going on in the various states in artisinal and informal mining situations, surveillance of illegal mining activities taking place and the various challenges faced on the field.
Justifying the urgent need for the procurement of the patrol vehicles, the minister said: “You may have read, for example, even though it is not directly linked to the mining operation, what happened in Zamfara on Tuesday and the number of people that were killed. Miners that were killed by bandits that have been operating in that area.
Meanwhile, Minister of Water Resources, Mr Sulaiman Adamu, has disclosed that the Council has ratified the Lake Chad Basin Water Charter.
The Lake Chad Basin Commission comprises a number of countries – Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic and Libya. A treaty was signed in 2012, by all countries which requires 95 per cent of member-countries to ratify it before it comes into effect.
Adamu said the next stage was for the document to go to the National Assembly for an enactment of law.