. . . as authorities arrest 16 Chinese, 8 Nigerians in Zurak, Plateau State
… while NSA declares illegal Mining kingpin wanted
Sixteen Chinese nationals and eight Nigerians involved in massive illegal mining were on Monday arrested in Zurak, Wase Local Government, Plateau State on the orders of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Brig-Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd), when the NSA in company with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, visited some illegal mining sites in the richly endowed lead/zinc belt.
Special Assistant on Media to the Minister, Yinka Oyebode told THE TRUTH that in exercise of powers provided in Section 4 of the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act 2007, the Minister declared a special mining zone over the lead/zinc in Kampala Zurak, and directed immediate stoppage of all mining activities in the area with the exception of duly licensed miners confirmed by the Mining Cadastre Office.
This is even as one Alhaji Usman Abubakar (aka Dan China) regarded as one of the most notorious illegal miners in the state was declared wanted by the NSA, Brig-Gen Monguno. The NSA ordered all security agencies to fish out and arrest the notorious illegal miner for acts seen as economic sabotage.
Plateau State Governor, Rt. Hon Simon Lalong, accompanied the Minister and the NSA on the reconnaissance mission to Wase LGA.
The arrested Nigerians have been in active connivance with non-Nigerians to carry out massive illegal mining in the state thereby depriving the country of revenue. Their unwholesome activities have also led to environmental degradation and abandoned mine pits.
Zurak is a key location of substantial mineral deposits especially lead, zinc, copper, tin, wolframite, tantalite and other base metals.
Over time, the range of illegal mining activities have been recorded around the Zurak/Wase area leading to a huge loss of revenue, minable land and social displacement of the rural communities.
Chief amongst the illegal miners identified during the visit is Solid Unit Limited, owned by Alhaji Usman Abubakar (aka Dan China) who is notorious for economic terrorism and has a reputation for evading law enforcement agencies. Another notable culprit is Geotess Nigeria Limited owned by one Dr. Kola Russel Ojo.
Under the Mining Act, the Minister has responsibility to “stop mining [activities] and take any action to ensure orderly development of the mineral resources”.
Dr Fayemi, in exercise of his powers, also directed the shut down of the operations of Solid Unit Limited and Geotess Nigeria Limited.
While responding, Governor Simon Lalong lamented the deprivation faced by people of Zurak despite the richness of the mineral resources that surround them. He called on the Federal Government to take necessary measures to curb illegal mining all over Plateau State.