No fewer than 11 persons, including a former councillor, were arrested by a special task force against illegal mining and excavating on a portion of land at Ijigun, Itele in the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Council, in Ogun State.
The Task Force comprising the military, Nigerian Civil Defence Corps personnel and others from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development led by one Ayelabola Olubunmi, also confiscated 15 excavators, two pickups, one pale loader one Mitsubishi vehicles and the sum of N11,900 from one Ezekiel Ojebisi who claimed to be a ticketer to loading sand vehicles, when they busted the illegal mining land about one kilometer.
Describing the illegal mining on the land as economic sabotage, Olubunmi said the ministry is now braced up to stop any group or individuals, anywhere, who aimed at rendering the onerous job of the ministry to unlock the economic potential of the solid mineral sub-sector in Nigeria to a nullity.
“The occupiers have been here for the past three to four years without paying a single kobo or royalty to the federal government. We are here to put an end to such illegal activities.
“We’ve started the sensitisation campaign warning illegal mining activities, in any part of the country. We want to see whoever is actually occupying this land.”
“We know there would be a reaction after this operation.
This reaction will help us to know those behind the illegal mining.
Olubunmi assured that the task force operation would not be an exercise in futility, as the federal government-armed security agents would be stationed on the land.
A Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Debo Adeleke had earlier written a petition to the Assistant Inspector General of Police, at the FCIID Annex, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi Lagos complaining of illegal occupation of the same land by some hoodlums.
According to the lawyer, his client, one Alhaji Ibrahim Gbenga Ibuoye is the legal and equitable owner of the large piece of the land, which he said was hijacked by some powerful people without a licence.
The lawyer had written, “Our client who acquired the said land for the purpose of continuing with his business of excavation on the said sit with the requisite permits from the Federal Ministry of Mines had been in occupation for years without any adverse claim.
“Our client is also in possession of all the permits, licences, family receipt, deed of assignment and all other documents in respect of the said land,” he said.