FG under pressure to free Chinese arrested for illegal mining – Minister

FG under pressure to free Chinese arrested for illegal mining – Minister

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite has said that the Federal Government is under pressure by some influential godfathers

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The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite has said that the Federal Government is under pressure by some influential godfathers who he refused to name, to release the Chinese who were arrested for illegal mining in Osun and Zamfara States but that FG has refused to bow to pressure, vowing to prosecute the suspects. ThePunch is reporting.

Two Chinese were arrested for illegal mining in Zamfara, despite a subsisting ban on mining activities in the state by the Federal Government. The ban followed the alleged links between illegal mining and banditry, which has led to the loss of hundreds of lives and destruction of property in the state. Twenty-seven people, including 17 Chinese, Senegalese, Burkinabes and Nigerians were arrested for illegal mining in Osun.

A steady rise in the value of gold due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on currencies has been linked to the recent spike in illegal gold mining and the Federal Government, which is grappling with challenges arising from the decline in oil price, is determined to capitalise on the country’s gold deposits to shore up its revenue.

Adegbite, said the government would meet with the Chinese government over the illegal activities of their nationals in Nigeria. He described the illegal gold mining in the country by the Chinese nationals as economic sabotage. The minister, who claimed the illegal miners were working for “Nigerians in high positions of authority”, said they had decided to adopt diplomatic and legal measures towards addressing the illegal mining by foreigners in the country.

“These godfathers were operating with impunity before, but they are now scared because the arrested illegal miners are naming names but they (godfathers) are denying. The Chinese are the main culprits in the illegal mining activities and we are going to meet with the Chinese Embassy. We are going to present all the facts to them so that it will not appear as if we are targeting them unfairly.”

The minister said some state government officials, heads of security agencies, and traditional rulers, were involved in illegal mining.
“There is a particular situation where soldiers in a particular cantonment are aiding illegal miners,” he said.