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Nigeria: Mining host communities demand an end to unregulated mining activities in their areas

“llegal Mining - Group Calls for Speedy Justice in Cases Involving Chinese Suspects”  13 May 2020

A coalition of Nigerian mining host communities and Civil Society groups in the mining sector has called for speedy dispensation of justice in cases involving 19 foreigners and 21 Nigerians arrested recently for illegal mining activities in Osun and Zamfara states. The group made the call in a statement on Wednesday. It also applauded the efforts of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the police, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and other security agencies in apprehending the suspects…The coalition condemned alleged undue pressure on the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, by "godfathers" to release the Chinese suspects and drop the case against them.

"Impunity has engendered corruption in Nigeria, and as found in other sectors of the economy, frustrated attempts at developing the mining sector in Nigeria. This must stop. While it is true that until recently, hydrocarbons have been the core source of revenue from Nigeria's extractive sector, the solid mineral sector, which now holds an even stronger potential to substantially contribute to the development of the nation's economy, continues to suffer monumental revenue leakages due to decades of failure to strengthen institutional oversight of the sector, leading to the lack of transparency and accountability. "The government's efforts must not end with just knee-jerked arrests and prosecution of foreign illegal miners, it must include concerted efforts to ensure that the avenues through which solid minerals are ferried out of Nigeria without due process are blocked. In addition to ensuring an end to the thriving illicit trade within, and smuggling of solid minerals out of Nigeria, government policies should promote the beneficiation of such minerals in order to enhance their value, and promote fiscal maximization of the sector.

…As mining host communities bear the environmental and economic brunt of the unregulated activities of these miscreants, we make a special call to include civil society actors and representatives of mining host communities in the composition of each state's Mineral Resources and Environmental Committees (MIREMCO) to ensure a function - friendly protection of the rights of mining host states and effective synergies between states and the federal government," the statement said. The coalition also called on the Federal Government to create a level-playing field for local investors through the promotion and capacity-building of local mining cooperatives, and the facilitation of credit systems for them.