It could be recalled that on Sunday, 7th April, 2019, the Inspector–General of Police, Mohammed Adamu addressed a press conference banning mining activities in Zamfara State, saying that it was a policy measure to address the spate of insurgencies, banditry and general insecurity which had reached a boiling point in the gold-rich Zamfara State.
Following the arrest of Chinese expatriates in minefield of Zamfara, and the avowed determination of the Federal Government to prosecute the suspects, a group of women miners in Nigeria, Women In Mining, WIM, have called on the public to obey the laws governing mining activities in the country, saying that Nigerians must support the Federal Government in its determination to address ‘the illegality perpetuated by the Chinese in our country.’
In a statement signed by the President of the group, Engr Janet Adeyemi, the group said: ‘Our attention has been drawn to the trending development on several news platforms where the Honorable Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch Olamilekan Adegbite was said to be under intense pressure to release Chinese individuals perpetuating illegality in mining in Zamfara State during COVID-19 lockdown order.’
‘On behalf of the mining community in Nigeria, we write to express our collaborative support for the Adegbite administration just as we identify with his sterling leadership and determination to address legacy challenges of the sector.’
While describing Adegbite as a ‘leader who is doing excellently in ensuring that mining is re-positioned,’ the group noted that it will boost the country’s earnings from the sector and implement all the needed reforms to accomplish the desired goals.
‘Women in Mining Nigeria therefore calls on all relevant stakeholders to join the Honorable Minister in the fight to eradicate illegal activities endorsed or overlooked that has crippled the sector for a long time.’
‘We cannot continue to watch our finite natural resources being plundered by foreigners and unpatriotic Nigerians for their personal gain. We must commend the Honorable Minister, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite for his courage to speak out at this time,’ the statement said.
‘We call on the President Muhammadu Buhari and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the Chinese individuals and their Nigerian partners are prosecuted according to the law, because neglecting the law without penalties for illegal miners will continue to undermine the growth in the sector and promote continuous recurrences of such illegal acts.’
‘They not only plunder our resources, they degrade our environments and expose our women and children to severe health risks through pollution of water courses, soil contamination among others therefore causing high risk to infections such as corona virus.’
The group called on civil society organisations and community based organisations within the industry to collaborate with Women in Mining to ensure that mining communities are free of both foreign and local economic saboteurs.