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The President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, has called on security agencies to arrest and prosecute foreigners and anyone engaged in the illegal mining of the country’s mineral resources.
Lawan made the call on Wednesday in his remarks after the consideration of a motion titled “The need to check illegal mining activities in the country.”
The motion was sponsored by Senator Ya’u Sahabi Alhaji (PDP, Zamfara North) and co-sponsored by 32 other senators.
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The Senate President, while speaking passionately on the motion, said “This Senate will look into the solid minerals sector seriously, and we will charge our Committee on Solid Minerals, Steel Development and Metallurgy to call for a public hearing on what the sector should be in this country.
“We know we have policies on solid minerals as well as legislation. The Federal Government gave N30 billion to the ministry just to revamp the sector in the last four years but I think as a parliament, we should be able to contribute very meaningfully to ensuring that this sector, which is so important to us, given the kind of situation the oil industry is going through, is given attention.”
Lawan called for proper revamping and protection of the mining sector, adding that illegal mining is unacceptable.
“We have to work to ensure that this particular sector is properly revamped and protected. The situation of illegal mining is unacceptable. We can’t tolerate it and allow that to happen.
“If there are any foreigners coming in their helicopters and on their feet to come and mine our resources without the necessary documentation, I think it is for us to ensure that our security agencies arrest them and prosecute them.
“I believe that this Assembly, particularly this Senate, must be at the vanguard of reviewing the situation in the mining sector and what we need to do if there are gaps in terms of legislation,” Lawan said.
Earlier, the sponsor of the motion, Senator Sahabi Alhaji, said “illegal mining sites not only breed criminality but also exacerbates into full scale terrorism and insurgency as witnessed in these states, particularly Zamfara State, where the state of insecurity can be traced to illegal mining sites.”
According to the lawmaker, the solid mineral sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country has dwindled overtime due to illegal mining.