An inkling into the festering crisis of banditry in the North-Western part of the country, especially in Zamfara State may have been provided by one of its Senators in the National Assembly, Ya’u Sahabi, who told the Upper Legislative house that illegal mining sites are breeding grounds for criminality that extends to terrorism.
He spoke as sponsor of a bill “The need to check illegal mining activities in the country”.
His words, “Illegal mining 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.”
In the past, the illegal activities of miners from within and outside the country has been blamed by governmental and non-governmental sources for the spike of crimes in the State.
It is not exactly known, apart from gold what else is mined in fringe North-West States.
But 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.
Speaking on the issue, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, called on security agencies to arrest and prosecute foreigners and anyone engaged in the illegal mining of the country’s mineral resources.
The motion was sponsored by Sahabi (PDP, Zamfara North) and co-sponsored by 32 other senators.
Said the Senate President, “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.