The Niger State Government yesterday suspended mining activities in three local government areas, including Shiroro, where seven Mobile Policemen were killed by terrorists last week.
The other two LGAs are Munya and Rafi, where terrorism and banditry have risen to terrible levels.
The attack on the Ajata Aboki mining site in Shiroro LGA resulted in an ambush of security men by the terrorists leading to the massacre of no fewer than 40 security agents.
Four Chinese and some locals were also abducted by the terrorists during the raid. The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, in a statement which was made available to journalists in Minna, said the decision to suspend mining activities in the affected areas “is as a result of escalating insecurity in those areas in recent times.
“It is observed that these mining sites now attract or even accommodate criminals with prospective threats to security of lives and property,” Matane said, adding that: “Any mining operator caught engaging in mining activities in the areas mentioned would face the full wrath of the law.”
Consequently, Matane said the state government has directed security agencies in the state to profile all mining sites in the affected local government areas in order to ascertain their genuineness.
The government scribe assured the people that the state government would not scale down the pressure on the bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers, and other criminal elements in the state until they are flushed out of the state.
He, however, urged the people of the state to be security conscious and report all suspicious characters, movements, or objects in their communities to security agents.
THISDAY observed that not less than 1,000 mining sites are in the state with none of them registered with the state government.
It was also learnt that the state government has not been generating any income from the mining sites.
The Managing Director of the Niger State Solid Minerals Company, Mr. Rufai Umar, when contacted, declared that: “Officially we don’t know about Ajate Aboki mining site; there is no official relationship with us (government). The company is on its own.
“Of course, we don’t know who owns the mining site, and that is one of the problems we are facing in the state. We wanted to regulate their activities but they are resisting it.”
He, however, said the state government would now domesticate the mining laws which will put all mines and miners under the state government control, while still remaining on the exclusive legislative list.