The federal government Wednesday revealed how illegal mining activities aggravated insecurity in Zamfara before its April 7 prohibition order and launch of special operations to stop bandits in the state.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who featured at a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) programme, “Good Morning Nigeria”, said banditry, kidnapping, killing and cattle rustling were largely sponsored by the illegal miners in the state.
Speaking on the Programme monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, the minister said that, the miners were fueling instability in the state to pave the way for their illegal activities.
“People begin to ask: What is the nexus between instability in Zamfara, kidnapping and banditry and illegal mining.
“There is a lot. For instance, if you are doing illegal mining, abinitio, it is illegal. The more unsettled the area is the better for you.
“We find out that a lot of ammunition and money were being turned out to the bandits so as to make the area ungovernable.
“The higher the rate of the crisis the better for the illegal miners,” he said.
The minister said that the commencement of “Operation PUFF- ADDER”, a full scale security offensive against the bandits, had yielded results in the past weeks.
“We have a harvest of criminals many of them arrested, their actions neutralised and cache of ammunition recovered.
“On the April 14, they neutralised 11 kidnappers, recovered six AK47, 1200 rounds of ammunition.
“Shortly after that, they were able to arrest those who kidnapped the Channels Television correspondent,” he said.
Mohammed urged Nigerians to give deserving credit to the police and the military who, though overstretched, are doing their best to keep the country safe.
The federal government had banned mining activities in Zamfara, ordering foreigners within mining sites to vacate the area within 48 hours.