Illegal miners hitherto sacked by the state government from some mining sites in Dagbala, Akoko-Edo local government area of Edo State, have staged a daring and massive come-back, this time, in neighbouring communities thereby heightening tension in the affected areas, particularly Ikpeshi, Atte and environs.
It was learnt that the illegal miners, in their hundreds, besieged the mining sites in the communities where they engage in illegal mining of gold and other solid minerals. The development is said to be causing security problem in the local government as the illegal miners come in droves from neighbouring states
With the brazen manner the illegal miners have been carrying on their activities, accusing fingers are being pointed at some allegedly conniving top officials of the Federal Ministry of Mines in the state. One of them had reportedly relocated to one of the areas where these illegal activities are going on.
However, the state government is believed to be on top of the situation. Haruna Yusuf, a security aide to the governor, Godwin Obaseki, said his principal would not sit by and watch illegal miners driven from Dagbala only to return to any other part of the state. He said “my attention was drawn to it on Monday”.
According to Yusuf, “We have chased away all the people from Dagbala gold sites, and our eagle-eye security men are on the look-out. We want peace and security in Edo state. I was just told about Ikpeshi and we are going to take necessary actions”.
Recall that licenced solid mineral prospectors had in March this year raised the alarm over alleged illegal mining activities and appealed to the ministry of mines to expel such illegal miners whose activities they described as “wicked” and detrimental to the interest of genuine miners.
But reacting to alleged complicity of the ministry of mines officials in the illegal business, the Zonal Mines Officer, South-south, and federal mines officer in charge of Edo State, Abudulkadir Usman Adamu, denied the allegation. Adamu advised interested miners seeking to obtain license to discuss with the community involved before embarking on such exercise. “I don’t know what to say when people make such allegations. It is my duty to go round every day and I move around. I am not supposed to be in the office. Even now, we are strategising to go back to Edo North because that is the most pronounced area in terms of mineral resources.
On the activities of illegal miners in Ikpeshi, he said “You people are just giving me new information now. You see, the issue of illegal mining is not something you sit down and curtail. What we tell people is that as soon as you get your license, mobilise to site”.