The Senate on Thursday said the country was losing about N4 trillion to illegal mining activities annually and ordered investigation into the development.
Mandating its Committee on Solid Minerals during plenary to carry out the investigation into the issue, the Senate said that the development was worrisome, especially with current low performance of the oil sector.
The Senate also directed the Inspector-General of Police and other law enforcement agencies to live up to their responsibilities, particularly, by arresting and prosecuting illegal miners.
The red chamber urged the executive at the federal, state and the local government levels to take concrete steps to end illegal mining activities.
These resolutions were made sequel to a motion by Sen. Duro Faseyi (PDP Ekiti North), seeking an end to illegal mining in the country.
In the motion, Faseyi drew the attention of the Senate to what he described as ‘’worrisome and unlawful plundering’’ of the nation’s solid minerals sector by local and foreign illegal miners.
He claimed that illegal mining had resulted in the loss of over N8 trillion by the nation ‘’every two years’’, lamenting that this had impacted adversely on the already ailing economy.
The lawmaker told his colleagues that illegal mining was thriving in Nigeria because of weak legislations and poor enforcement.
According to him, the situation has jeopardized the urgent need to diversify the economy from oil to solid minerals.
He also said that illegal mining had resulted in the devastation and pollution of the environment, leading to the death of hundreds of Nigerians, with thousands sick or wounded.
Faseyi observed that the government appeared helpless, without any concrete strategy in place to tackle the ‘’monumental economic sabotage’’.
In his contribution, Sen. Lanre Tejuoso (APC Ogun Central) pointed out that the solid minerals sector was not as successful as the petroleum sector in terms of revenue generation.
He blamed the situation on Federal Government’s monopoly on the returns from solid minerals ‘’unlike the liberality enjoyed by the oil sector in terms of control of its revenue’’.
Tejuoso suggested that the Senate should make laws to empower state governments to have jurisdiction to harness solid minerals for more productive exploitation.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said that government would do everything within its powers to tackle the challenges in the mining sector. (NAN)