OrderPaperToday – Senator representing Osun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Sen. Fadahunsi Francis Adenigba, has accused some private jet owners and unnamed public officers of aiding and abetting illegal mining and smuggling of gold out of the country.
Sen. Fadahunsi made this allegation at an investigative hearing on alleged loss of 9 billion dollars annually due to illegal mining and smuggling of Gold, organised by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy on Tuesday.
Sen. Fadahunsi, who traced the issues of illegal mining and gold smuggling to 1930s, said that the people involved in the elites, some of whom use private jets.
He also accused traditional rulers of giving community consent to the illicit activities, adding that this is the same thing that bedeviled the oil industry and should not be allowed in the solid minerals sector.
In order to curb the menace, the Osun Senator called for intervention from the Federal Government and improvement in the budget for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
He further suggested that some percentage of revenues from oil exploration be used to develop the sector.
He added that smuggling of gold persist due to negative mindsets of Nigerians and that the communities where illegal mining is done should be properly involved in finding solutions to the challenges.
Earlier, the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogah, called for capital punishment for offenders.
“Gold Smuggling in Nigeria is often done using private jets, the very reason why private jets ownership and operations, need to be streamlined in the country,” Ogah said, buttressing the point made by the senator.
The menace, he explained, was prompted by the inability of indigenous investors to obtain mineral mining titles and required technology for mining used by the British miners before the indigenisation policy.
Ogah, further lamented that gold smuggling and illegal mining, which is depriving the country of humongous revenue annually, have continued to thrive due to connivance by security agencies with illegal miners, host communities’ collaboration, low level of application of technology.
He stated that for these crimes to be fought decisively, potent punitive measure like capital punishment, need to be applied through amendments to relevant mining laws.
He, however, mentioned that the menace can be tackled through establishment of Mines Police, Special Courts or Tribunals to try offenders.
“Adequate funding for the ministry and a reorientation to impart positive mindsets in Nigerians towards the country will go a long way”, Ogah added.