The Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) and the Mining Inspectorate, on Sunday faulted the Osun state government for the poor handling of the arrested illegal miners in the state.
They urged the state government to hand over the arrested foreign nationals to the Federal government for prosecution.
The Director Generals of the organisations in separate interviews decried the high level of not following the constitutional provision on handling illegal miners in Nigeria.
This, according to the Director-General, NGSA, Dr Abdulrazaq Garba, the incidence of illegal mining, especially by foreign nationals has been condoned for too long in the country.
He said; “There is the need for the operators both local and foreign to practice by the rule of the game. A lot of revenue has been lost by the government through these illegal activities. Furthermore, the level of environmental devastation associated with these activities needs to be looked into. Somebody must be held responsible! The Osun state government is yet to hand over the Chinese to the federal government for prosecution as they insist that they are still carrying out their investigation. what is your take on this?
“If these foreign nationals are found to have contravened our laws they must face the full wrath of the law. Don’t forget illegal mining and export of our minerals is an offence so also is the entry and staying in the country illegally. However, no one should be made to suffer unjustly. The laws of the land must be allowed to take its course. Procedure to be followed if an illegal miner is arrested by a State Government.
“Ordinarily, if an illegal miner is arrested by the State Government, such a miner ought to be handed over to the Federal Government for prosecution in line with the Minerals and Mining Act 2007 (Chapter 5– Offences and Penalties) and the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Regulations (Section 20 – Sanctions). Mining can only take place with Federal Permit (obtained after fulfilling the necessary terms). The moment an arrest is made for illegal mining, such offenders must be handed over to the Federal Authority for prosecution.
“The Federal Mines Officer in a particular state must be invited to investigate the matter. The Federal Mines Officer will then forward his report to the Honourable Minister, who will hand over to the Legal Department of the Ministry for further action where necessary,” he said.
On his part, the Director-General, Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, Engineer Obadiah Nkom said the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has placed Mines and Minerals under the Exclusive legislative list.
He also said Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 and its Regulations clearly spells out its operation, adding that the Minister of Mines and Steel Development is to ensure full enforcement in that sector.
“As regards the Chinese illegal miners arrested by the Osun state government, their efforts are well commended, However, it should be noted that the offenders have committed an offence against a federal law that is, the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act and the Regulations made pursuant to it.
“Under the said law, it is only the Federal Government or any of its agents including the Ministry of Mines and Steels Development and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation have the authority and power to prosecute such an offender being an offence committed against Federal law. That being the case, therefore, the offenders arrested by the Osun State Government should be handed over to the Federal Government Agencies (Police, DSS or EFCC) for further investigation if need be and prosecution by the Attorney General of the Federation with the support and assistance of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
“Furthermore, it should be noted that the Osun State Government has no power to detain any illegal miner, as no law in Nigeria donates such power to them in Nigeria. The Osun State Government should be advised as a matter of urgency and necessity to handover the alleged offenders to the Federal Government for further investigation where necessary and prosecution as the case may be.
Speaking further on the development, the acting Director, Mining Inspectorate, Frank Odoom said it is quite unfortunate that the Osun government could handle illegal mining poorly.
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