The Minister of Solid Minerals, Dele Alake, says the Federal Government has discovered that powerful Nigerians involved in illegal mining are sponsoring banditry and terrorism in the country.
He stated this Tuesday when he appeared for the 2024 budget defence before the House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals.
Alake stated: “One discovery that we’ve made is that a lot of these insecurities and banditry associated with this sector are sponsored by illegal miners.
“These are not your artisan miners. They’re not the people who pick gold on the ground. These are heavy and powerful individuals in our country. They’re Nigerians and not foreigners.
“Yes, you can see foreigners as symptoms, but they’re not the basics. Nigerians are the powers behind those foreigners that you see on the streets. We’re identifying them and employing various strategies, both kinetic and non-kinetic.
“The non-kinetic with that artisan miners, I gave them an ultimatum that they should form themselves into cooperatives because every Nigerian has a right to life and necessities and if the government cannot provide these necessities, we cannot push them into the bush.”
He said adequate security of mining sites and prospective sites would restore investors’ confidence in the Nigeria’s mining sector.
Alake said the conservative amount of mineral deposits in Nigeria was over $700bn, noting that the country had 44 minerals high demand, but had outlined seven that were of the highest demand globally.
The chairman of the committee, Gaza Gbefwi, said the solid minerals sector remained the last hope for Nigeria to attain the level of economic diversification required.