DETERMINED to win the war against illegal mining activities in Nigeria, the Federal Government, on Thursday, commissioned 50 operation vehicles for use by the Special Mines Surveillance taskforce and the State Minerals Resources and Environmental Management committee (MIREMCO).
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who handed over the vehicles to the heads of the operation units in Abuja, said strengthening the surveillance unit with operational vehicles and gadgets was part of the Federal Government’s strategy to strengthen units in all the states of the Federation.
He said the re-introduction of Mines Police was to support the economic diversification efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration through effective security of the mines.
Dr 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, the 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. It may be recalled that the Task Force was established in 2012.
“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 commissioned today and their usage flagged-off.
“I am optimistic that with the commissioning 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 chairman on the 19th August 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 an upsurge in the activities of illegal mining across the States of the Federation and strained relationship with States and Local Governments.
“The first fifteen (15) States with functional MIREMCOs have already received the sum of Five (5) Million Naira each, as mobilization grants and ten (10) Hilux pick-up Vehicles were procured for the first ten (10) States.” He explained.
In his speech, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, who was represented by the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP), Taiwo Lakanu, hailed the provision of surveillance vehicles by the ministry, saying the institution approved the setting up of the Mines Police following request from the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi
He said the Mines Police which is 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 of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corp, Kelechi Madu, who hailed the provision of operation vehicles for the Mining surveillance, said it would enhance the 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.
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