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Prominent Nigerians are funding banditry, illegal mining – FG

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FG revokes 924 dormant mining licences

The federal government has alleged that powerful Nigerians involved in illegal mining were also responsible for other criminal activities such as sponsoring banditry and terrorism in the country.

Mr Dele Alake, Nigeria’s Minister of Solid Mineral who made the allegation when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals for the 2024 budget defence in Abuja on Tuesday, noted that a lot of banditry and terrorism are sponsored by illegal miners, not people who pick gold on the ground but powerful individuals in the country.

He said the majority of the illegal miners were not foreigners but added that foreigners could be seen as symptoms.

“Nigerians are those powerful people behind them; we are identifying them with both kynetic and non-kynetic means. We have encouraged those petty illegal miners to form cooperatives.”

He said the most disturbing aspect was that most of the foreigners engaged in illegal mining in the country had no proper immigration.

According to him, for mining to generate the requisite revenue, there was a need to have a formal structure that the multinational could deal with, just like the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Ltd.

He, however, said that the approach of the ministry under his leadership would be different from NNPCL, adding that the structure being proposed for Nigeria Mining Cooperation would be primarily private sector-driven.

He added that “Nigeria will also have its equity, adding that this would mean that no government could destabilize the structure.

He said the conservative amount of minerals deposited in the country is over 700 billion dollars, adding that in Nigeria, we had not even accessed a quarter of what it has.

He urged the chairman of the committee to support the process, adding that this would help change mining in the country.

He also said that the host communities where mining activities take place across the country would be engaged to forestall the breakdown of laws and orders.

He pleaded with the committee to consider the amount budgeted for the ministry in the 2024 budget proposal.

“If we are given that amount of money, I can tell you that what the ministry will contribute will outweigh other ministries, including what we are deriving from oil.

“We can return trillions to the coffers of this country as revenue if we are given such a budget as proposed,” he said.

According to him, we have 44 minerals in high demand, but we have six that are in global demand.

He said Nigeria had the potential to become one of the destination hubs of the world’s economy through solid minerals.

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He, however, said there was a need to sanitize the operating environment for investors.

The chairman of the committee, Rep. Gaza Gbefwi, said that the solid minerals sector remained the last hope for the country to attain the level of diversity it required.

He, however, said that the funds appropriated to the sector in the 2024 budget were grossly inadequate.

He added that the committee has taken proactive steps to put up motions and bills that would strengthen and reorganize the sector.

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