Nigeria seeks to establish zonal courts to try, jail illegal miners

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As part of measures being put in place to effectively regulate mining activities, the Federal Government is coming up with an all-encompassing policy to adequately unlock the potentials abound in the sector by encouraging and empowering local miners to take over the mining activities, thereby creating huge job opportunities for more Nigerian youths.

Consequently, the Federal Government is currently working on Downstream Policy with a focus on mining activities centred on over 44 mineral resources for which the country is blessed, devising means through which mining activities will be boosted and combating illegal mining activities with a strict trial of any miners caught without necessary approval for mining.

Speaking in Abeokuta on Tuesday during series of meetings with stakeholders in the mining industry, including Lafarge Africa, Uchechukwu Ogah, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, warned illegal miners across the country to desist from their illegitimate activities, perfect their mining titles or risk being jailed for a minimum of two years without any option of fine.

Ogah noted that Federal Government is already working on a law that will establish zonal courts across the geopolitical zones where offenders caught without necessary mining approval from Federal Government will be tried and jailed without an option of fine.

He explained that the stringent conditions and adherence to law becomes inevitable owing to fact that Federal Government is working towards using the nation’s mining sector to diversify the economy, mitigate the country’s unemployment rates and also lift over 100 million citizens out of poverty.

Ogah said the Federal Government is working on evolving a synergy between officials of the Federal Ministry of Mines, the State Executive Councils as well as other stakeholders to eliminate some issues and bottlenecks in the area of levies and royalties payable to the government, saying that we can all do better for the country so that government can use the resources to develop Nigeria.

He said, “We want Nigeria to be a mining destination because we want to use this ministry as a key for the diversification of the economy of this country to create employment for the teeming Nigerian youths.

“Mining is key towards the industrialisation of this nation. The fourth industrial revolution can only be by the way of mining and Nigeria is blessed with over 44 mineral resources. That is why we are devoting our time on the way forward to develop this sector.

“As you can see, within a short time, we have come up with a lot of policies to encourage local miners. We are coming up with a policy called – Downstream Policy, that, you cannot take away any more.

“We want to encourage you to do your businesses in genuine ways: pay your royalties and let the Federal Government get money to develop the nation. Do your Environmental Impact Assessment Reports. We are encouraging them because mining is key for the diversification of the economy”.

RAZAQ AYINLA, Abeokuta

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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