Nigeria: How govt arrested 17 Chinese illegal miners, 10 locals in Osun State

The illegal miners being paraded in public

The government of Osun State in Nigeria has arrested 27 illegal miners, 17 of whom are Chinese national and 10 others their local collaborators.

The government announcing this on Sunday, said the Osun State Joint Task Force (JTF), recently inaugurated by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, apprehended the 27 illegal miners, which also included a local traditional chief (Baale).

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The government said “they were arrested following a coordinated sting operation around Ilesa and Ife axis of the state.”

Speaking on the development, government, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the State Governor, Abdullahi Binuyo, noted that “no responsible government will fold its arms and watch its land being degraded by unauthorised persons.”

Aside the economic leakages, he said the illegal miners had also polluted the Osun River with poisonous metals, thereby making it unsafe for human consumption and irrigation.

He added that apart from ensuring that those arrested are prosecuted, they will also be made to pay compensation.

“As part of the government’s economic reforms, solid mineral is a major sector we are looking to explore . For these reforms to work, it has become imperative on the reforms to stop illegal mining and step up enforcement activities. The result is what we are witnessing today.

“The people you see here neither have genuine mining licences nor are they registered with the government,” government said.

What the arrested unauthorised miners claimed to have, the ‘Exploration Licences,’ the government said “do not allow them to mine, the way they are doing. So we will be prosecuting them and make them pay for damages.

“Apart from flouting government’s Covid-19 Order, by refusing to stay at home, they have created environmental disaster for us, by poisoning our River which is a major public health concern for us.”

Binuyo had earlier said “one of those arrested, May Zam, who was the only one that could speak passable English among the Chinese, disclosed that she was not aware they were engaged in illegal mining.

“She said she worked for different companies, and she believed they should have mining licences, adding that the current company she works for, which she failed to name, has a Nigerian sponsor.”