FG Strengthens Mines Surveillance Task Force, Others with 50 Vehicles

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  • Mines Police established to support FG’s diversification plan, says IGP

Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

Determined to win the war against illegal mining activities in the country, the Federal Government recently unveiled 50 operation vehicles for use by the Special Mines Surveillance taskforce and the State Minerals Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO).

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who handed over the vehicles to the heads of the operation units, said strengthening the surveillance unit with operational vehicles and gadgets was part of government’s strategy to strengthen units in all the states of the federation.

The Minister spoke just as the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, represented by AIG Taiwo Lakanu, said the re-introduction of Mines Police was to support the economic diversification efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration through effective security of the mines.

The unveiling of the vehicles was done at the Ministry in Abuja, witnessed by the Minister of State, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari; Permanent Secretary, Dr Abdulkadir Muazu; AIG Taiwo Lakanu; Deputy Commandant General, Nigerian Civil Defence Corp, Kelechi Madu; and Chairman MIREMCO, Edo State, Mr. Dan Inneh.

Fayemi said the special surveillance task force and the MIREMCO had not been able to deliver effectively on their mandate due to lack of required logistics, a situation, which according to him, has led to a surge in illegal mining activities.

“Considering the alarming rate the illegal mining has posed against the present administration’s efforts in diversifying the economy, Government has decided to take a coordinated approach to curtail the menace, sanitise the mines-field and position the sector on the path of sustainable development, hence the resuscitation of the Special Mines Surveillance Taskforce (SMSTF) in 2017. The Task Force was established in 2012”, Fayemi said.

Speaking further, the Minister said: “As a strategy to strengthen the Taskforce in all the States of the Federation and the FCT, 40 Toyota Hilux vehicles have been procured. The vehicles will be unveiled today and their usage flagged-off.

“I am optimistic that with the unveiling of these vehicles and the provision of necessary logistics for the operations of the Taskforce and MIREMCOs, the illegal activities would be reduced drastically and our relationship with our state governments would be strengthened.

“MIREMCO is a statutory mechanism established by Section 19 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 to create synergy between Federal, State and Local Governments for the Sustainable Development of Solid Minerals Resources in the country.

“The Committee is to operate in all the States of the Federation including the FCT and its functions, as stipulated in the extant Act, is to advise the Minister on all issues relating to the Mineral Resources Development, environmental protection, sustainable management of mineral resources, conflict resolutions and other environmental and social issues. The Committee became operational with the inauguration of the 37 Committee chairmen on August 19, 2017 in Abuja.

“Due to lack of required logistics, the Special Mines Surveillance Taskforce and MIREMCO could not deliver their mandates and this led to upsurge in the activities of illegal mining across the states of the Federation and strained relationship with states and local governments.

“The first 15 States with functional MIREMCOs have already received the sum of N5 million each, as mobilisation grants and ten Hilux pick-up vehicles were procured for the first ten states”.

The Police IG, who hailed the provision of surveillance vehicles, said the force approved the setting up of the Mines Police following request from the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Fayemi
He said the Mines Police, headed by a deputy Commissioner of Police Tunde Mobayo, is saddled with the responsibility of securing the mines against the scrounge of illegal mining.

He explained that for its operations at the states, the Mines Police would work with the Counter Terrorist Unit of the Nigerian Police.

The Deputy Commandant General Madu, who hailed the provision of operation vehicles for the mining surveillance, said it would enhance optimal performance of the sector.

Madu revealed that over 500 illegal miners had so far been apprehended. While 21 have been convicted, some were released at the discretion of the Mines Offices in the states.