More than 30 illegal miners, including 11 Chinese, who had been involved in illegal gold mining in Zamfara State, have been deported from Nigeria.
Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State disclosed this to State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday, also said Zamfara is in need of more security operatives.
Matawalle, who disclosed that he visited the President to brief him on security developments in Zamfara State, added that the porous nature of borders around the state made it possible for all sorts of elements to gain access to the mines with the state, noting that most of the illegal miners in the state are foreigners.
He, however, noted that the President had given needed instructions to the appropriate quarters where security reinforcement would be effected, emphasising the Zamfara would be willing to receive as much more of security presence as it could get from the federal government.
He said the recent disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) made the situation a bit more difficult in recent times, citing the killing of about 20 persons in Talata/Mafara council area on Thursday as part of the side effect of the disbandment for his state.
Speaking on the menace of illegal mining by foreigners in the state, he said “as you are aware, most of these illegal miners are not Nigerians, but with the support of the army, police and other security agencies in the state, some of them were apprehended and repatriated to their respective countries.
“We have deported 11 Chinese and over 20 from Burkina Faso and Mali. You know we have the problem of a very porous border particularly from Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Niger Republic.
“People used to cross freely but with the measures that have been taken by Nigeria Immigration Services, I know they have put some measures in this border to checkmate the movement of other nationals into Nigeria. I am confident that very soon we won’t have the problem of other nationals illegally coming into our country anymore.
“Still on the gold mine, what we are doing now with the task force that will be put in place to check illegal miners, I think the central government needs to do something and put measures in place to harness this untapped mineral resources in the state.
“As you are aware, the ministry of solid minerals is working hard with genuine workable document that will benefit both the state and federal government”, he said.
On why he visited the President and the security situation in Zamfara State, the governor said “I came to brief Mr. President on the current security situation in the state.
“After the disbandment of SARS we had some challenges, particularly day before yesterday about 20 people were killed under Talata/Mafara local government and what I was soliciting to Mr President is to see how we can be able to get more security that will secure the territory of the state.
“I informed him about some illegal mining activities that are taking place in Zamfara State, which Mr President promised to have directed the National Security Adviser, may be, to form a committee, a task force on illegal mining, which can go round the state and fish out the activities of these illegal miners.
“To me, in Zamfara State, SARS are doing very well because they are tracking those criminals and prosecuting them, particularly those in the high area, SARS has the capacity to track and bring them to justice. So, to me, in Zamfara State we are in need for SARS, we know with their presence we have experienced peace in the state”, he said.
Asked how the President responded, he said “he directed the Chief of Staff to the President to take measures to connect with other relevant government agencies that we have discussed with about the issue of security. So, the Chief of Staff will contact the army, police and other security agencies to mobilize more security to the state with immediate effect,” he said.