Following large quantities of gold being smuggled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Federal Government is contemplating setting up special courts that would try cases bordering on illegal mining activities in Nigeria.
In addition, it also said plans are underway to establish a protocol of export with countries of high mineral import volumes from Nigeria (like China, and others) in form of certificate of origin, and high recognition of export clearance for all exported minerals.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, explained at a conference in Abuja, that these special courts would be presided by designate judges to entertain and adjudicate on mining matters expeditiously.
Adegbite also regretted the misappropriation of mineral titles, using exploration licences for mining activities, saying that since there was no prosecution or conviction of apprehended illegal miners, “we must put in place legal instruments to handle them generally.”
Commenting on the 19 illegal foreign nationals arrested in Zamfara and Osun states, he said they would soon be brought before a Federal High Court, adding that their cases are being compiled by the Director of Public Prosecutions to that effect.
While enumerating factors that aid illegal mining in Nigeria, the minister maintained that lack of adequate manpower at the Mines Offices to police mineral sites has caused the government to incur losses in the sector.
“The infinity of illegal gold miners is due to the increased price of the commodity in the international markets. However, the involvement of foreign nationals (Chinese, Bukinabes, and Senegalese) makes them connive with the citizens.”
On measures to curtail their nefarious activities, Adegbite stressed that they would soon establish a special centralised and more robust enforcement unit to carry out raids and arrest the illegal miners, as well as engage community leaders as whistleblowers in their domain.