The Osun State Government announced the arrest of 27 illegal miners in the state. Those apprehended include 17 Chinese nationals and 10 locals, including a local traditional ruler (Baale).
The arrest was confirmed by the Deputy Chief of Staff to the State Governor, Abdullahi Binuyo, who noted that no responsible government will fold its arms and watch its land being degraded by unauthorised persons.
It was gathered that the arrest was executed by the recently inaugurated Osun State Security Taskforce (Amotekun) around Ilesa and Ife axis of the state.
This action is coming five months after a report exposed how a large number of illegal miners pursued from Zamfara now carry out their unauthorised business in Osun, largely working for Chinese firms. After this newspaper’s exposè, Nigerians on social media charged the authorities to take appropriate steps to stop illegal gold mining in the state and other places.
Also, public health experts warned that if not properly tackled, illegal mining will lead to environmental and human health problems.
Last week, the state government arrested 11 indigenes of Zamfara who sneaked into the state for alleged illegal mining activities amidst the coronavirus lockdown.
Addressing journalists on Sunday, Mr Binuyo said beyond the economic leakages, the illegal miners had also polluted the Osun River with poisonous metals, thereby making it unsafe for human consumption and irrigation. He added that those arrested will be prosecuted and made to pay compensation.
“As part of the government’s economic reforms, solid minerals 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. What they claim to have is Exploration Licences, which does not allow them to mine, the way they are doing. So, we will be prosecuting them and make them pay 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”, he said.