The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake has advised miners engaged in illegal extraction of mineral resources a 30-day ultimatum to join mining cooperatives or face the full wrath of the law.
The minister also unveiled a plan to set up a surveillance task force that would include policemen and other relevant agencies to secure mines across the country.
Alake spoke at a world press conference held in Abuja on Sunday where he announced the 30-day ultimatum to miners and plans to introduce security operatives as parts of his seven transformation agenda.
Alake expressed concern that a country with precious minerals as gold, bitumen, lithium and uranium in massive proportions could fail to use the resources to liberate its citizens.
He said: “I am giving illegal miners in this country just 30 days grace to join cooperatives or find another vocation. Also, the proposed task force will be domiciled in the ministry and will comprise operatives of all the relevant security agencies.
“For the last time, let me declare again that the ministry is giving such persons 30 days grace to join a miners’ co-operative or find another vocation to do.
“On the expiration of the period, the full weight of the law will fall on anyone seen on a mining site without a determinable status. This message will be interpreted into Nigerian languages and broadcast on the radio to ensure no one is ignorant of this directive.
“From October, a rejuvenated security regime will become active in the solid minerals sector. This will include the Mine Police, sourced from the Nigeria Police and specially trained to detect illegal mining and apprehend offenders.
“The new Mines Surveillance Security Task Force will coordinate the Mines Police and proactively address high-risk incidences of breach of Mining Laws. The Federal and State governments will also be encouraged to allocate the prosecution of cases against illegal miners to competent courts”.
Illegal mining of mineral resources has remained a worrisome trend for the Federal Government and sub- national governments.
On August 3, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Mary Ogbe raised a similar alarm that illegal mining activities are disrupting the country’s $700 billion industry.
She disclosed that some of the minerals are often exported raw to Asian and European countries at ridiculous prices without value.