Illegal mining as a threat to national security – Blueprint Newspapers Limited

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On November 25, 2021, the federal government inaugurated a 14-member national task force committee to draft a framework that would guide mining activities in the country. The committee is chaired by the National Security Advisor (NSA), Babagana Monguno.

Part of the committee’s mandate is to develop a framework for the selection of potential miners who would undertake mining activities in states where mining activities take place.

It is also responsible for conducting background checks and screening potential companies referred by the Federal Ministry of Mines and Solid Minerals Development for mining in Zamfara and other states.

During the committee’s inauguration, Monguno was optimistic that some of the security concerns that prompted the decision to ban mining activities in Zamfara, Plateau and other states would be reduced once the committee worked out. a frame.

Recall that in November 2019, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, informed the National Economic Council that the federal government had resuscitated the Presidential Working Group on Mine Monitoring to fight against exploitation illegal mining and environmental degradation.

The task force operates in all states of the federation and is charged with plugging revenue leaks and institutionalizing the National Council of Mining and Mineral Resources Development.

As early as August 2017, along with Dr Kayode Fayemi (then Minister of Mines and Steel Development), Monguno also ordered the immediate closure of illegal mining sites in Plateau State. The decision was made when they visited mining sites at Campania Zurak in the state’s Wase local government area.

These policies and decisions in the mining industry underscore the relationship between illegal mining and the threat to national security.

This link was further underscored when, in March this year, the NSA announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval to declare Zamfara state a “no-fly zone” and ban mining activities with immediate effect.

Such is the threat posed by illegal mining that a presidential statement once estimated the number of illegal miners across the country at 20,000, stressing that the threat has become a threat to national security.

“Beyond the problems of bandits and cattle thieves, the scale of lawlessness has been compounded by illegal miners who harvest resources they have no legal right to exploit.

“Official statistics suggest that there are over 20,000 of these miners undermining this important part of the economy, operating in extraordinarily harmful and destructive ways. The result is chaos, ”the statement read.

As part of Environmental Security, National Security Strategy (NSS, 2019), a policy document designed by the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA) to coordinate national security, illegal mining and other environmental activities were captured. protect and conserve the environment by preventing and mitigating natural and man-made threats to environmental security and sustainability. Illegal mining not only threatens the lives and livelihoods of rural dwellers, it also provides illicit financial flows that are increasingly linked to terrorism and banditry.

Security experts believe just as available analysis of media content shows that some of those who sponsor illegal mining are also funding banditry and cattle rustling in mining communities to incite violence among pastoralists and cattle ranchers. According to Maurice Ogbonnaya of the Institute for Security Studies, “Conflict displaces people and creates opportunities for illegal minors to operate. Many press reports attribute conflicts in the region to rural banditry without addressing its links to illegal mining. Illegal gold mining leads to rural banditry and violence in local conflicts in parts of Nigeria. “This includes the regions of the north-west, the center-north and to some extent the south-west,” he said.

It is estimated that around 80% of mining in the Northwest region is carried out illegally and in a non-mechanized manner by the local population. In addition, the indiscriminate and uncertified use of explosives at these illegal mine sites violates Nigeria’s Arms and Explosives Control Law. In September, President Buhari forwarded a bill to the National Assembly to control the proliferation of weapons and regulate the importation of explosives into the country. The bill seeks to repeal the Explosives Act 1964 and enact a new law that would regulate the manufacture, storage, possession, use, distribution, purchase, sale, transportation, import and export of explosives and other related matters. The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is responsible for issuing licenses for explosives for mining and construction uses, with additional safety checks carried out by ONSA through the certification of the ‘final user.

Minister of State for Mines and Steel Uche Ogah recently said Nigeria was losing $ 9 billion a year to illegal mining and gold smuggling. These are the kinds of issues that should inform the outcome of the work of the working group / committee. It is also imperative that the working group committee incorporates the applicable provisions of the various policy documents designed by NAHO, such as the legal framework it is supposed to propose.

Any internal or external action that threatens the security and defense of a nation, including its citizens, economy, resources, institutions and critical infrastructure, constitutes a threat to national security. mining as a threat to national security. In addition, with the establishment of the task force committee, it is believed that the existing laws for the protection of the country’s solid mineral deposits would be strengthened. Hopefully, new guidelines that would complement existing laws would also be created to provide adequate safety coverage needed to prevent illegal mining.

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