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Bloody Plateau Land-grabbing Attacks Aim to Capture Mineral Wealth: Lawmaker

60 Villages in Plateau State Taken over by Invading Migrants Seizing Choice Land and Mineral Wealth.

By  Douglas Burton and Ebere Inyama

[Jos] The Black Christmas massacres in North Central Nigeria may have been motivated by a plan to claim mineral wealth and productive pasture, a former State representative told Channels TV on Jan. 23.

“Out of 60 villages captured on Plateau all of them have high density mineral resources as well as high yielding agricultural output,” said Dachung Bagos to a Channels TV anchor. “Mining—heavy mining – are going on in those areas, Bagos said. “Go back to those areas in three weeks, and the people who are mining those areas are not our people,” he said. “None of the indigenous ethnicities are staying in those villages today,” Bagos said.  The takeover of mining sites in Central Plateau after terrorist attacks at Christmas was confirmed by Mark Lipdo, founder of the Stefanos Foundation in Jos.

According to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Plateau State is among six states in Nigeria that have been identified as the top destinations for the illegal mining of solid minerals in the country. The states include Niger, Plateau, Ebonyi, Imo, Enugu and Zamfara states illegally. Plateau State has seven illegal mining sites yielding tin, columbite, barite and zinc.

Plateau has been one of the world’s major suppliers of tin, and Jos is still known as “tin city.”  

Map of historic tin mining ponds in Nigeria, courtesy of Prof. Nathaniel Goki, Nasarawa State University— Keffi.  
Map of historic tin mining ponds in Nigeria, courtesy of Prof. Nathaniel Goki, Nasarawa State University— Keffi.  
Attack sites of Christmas Massacres in three counties of Plateau State. Courtesy of Stefanos Foundation. Use only with permission.
Attack sites of Christmas Massacres in three counties of Plateau State. Courtesy of Stefanos Foundation. Use only with permission.

 A map of 20 historic tin mining sites in Bokkos County of Plateau available on ResearchGate.net set beside a map of the deadly attacks by terrorists illustrates that the attacks and the mining ponds are concentrated in Bokkos County.

Illegal Mining Rarely Contributes to Nigerian Treasury

Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake, has accused powerful mining investors of fueling banditry in Nigeria.

 “If you follow my budget defence at the House of Representatives or Senate, I did say categorically to the whole world that powerful Nigerians are behind the banditry associated with illegal miners in this country.

Illegal miners in Nigeria steal over 90 percent of Nigeria’s revenue from gold and other solid minerals, according to information available to TruthNigeria.

Speaking at the recently Green Economic Summit held in Minna, Niger state between October 24 and 25, 2023, Gov. Muhammed Bago of Niger state alleged that “dealers in the black market gold trade rake in an astonishing N1.2 billion daily” 

In an interview with TruthNigeria, a former Director of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Sunday Akuns explained why revenue derived from solid minerals by the federal government is far below expectation.

“Based on the 2023 data from the National Bureau of Statistics about the contribution of the mining sector to the nation’s GDP, from the figures I see, it is less than 7 percent. Not every activity is captured officially,” Akuns said to TruthNigeria.

“If gold is being mined in Zamfara or any other state in commercial quantities, then it is not being officially done and officially reported and will not be reflected in the official data of the National Bureau of Statistics”, he said.

“If you look at the mining laws, I think it stipulates that every natural resource in the country belongs to the federal government.

Any state government that engages in the mining of solid minerals such as gold without official documentation and permission is doing so illegally”, Akuns said.

Findings by TruthNigeria indicate that some influential Nigerians may have benefitted from illegal mining of solid minerals.

A serving senator and member of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), Senator Abdulaziz Yari, is a powerful politician who has long been fingered for his connection with illegal gold miners. Yari served as the Governor of Zamfara  between 2011 and 2019. There are reports that gold bars worth millions of dollars linked to him was seized in Ghana in 2021 but he denied the ownership of them.

Even as a sitting Senator, Yari was grilled for various financial offenses which include illegal Mining.

A recent report by TruthNigeria states that Nigeria’s Minister of State For Defense, Bello Matawalle, has been accused by many Zamfara natives of seizing their goldmines while using his influence at the federal level to circumvent the ban on illegal mining.

In 2019, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) said in its report that royalties received from 39 minerals was N2.50bn, with limestone contributing 37.68 per cent, granite 31.31 per cent and gold 0.26 per cent, despite the volume of mining activities by illegal miners.

In its 2023 report, NEITI revealed that Nigeria has abundant mineral wealth, with 44 different minerals found in 500 locations. Despite these vast mineral deposits, data from NEITI revealed that over a 13-year period, the solid minerals sector generated only $1.4 billion for the country. In comparison, the oil and gas sector, a sister industry, generated a staggering $394 billion in just 10 years, surpassing the revenue of the solid minerals sector by $392.6 billion.

The Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007, enacted by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 29th March, 2007 stipulates in Section (1) that : “The entire property in and control of all mineral resources in, under or upon any land in Nigeria, its contiguous continental shelf and all rivers, streams and watercourses throughout Nigeria, any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone is and shall be vested in the Government of the Federation for and on behalf of the people of Nigeria”.

In Section 2, the Act stipulates that: “No person shall search for or exploit mineral resources in Nigeria or divert or im- pound water for the purpose of mining except as provided in this Act.”

Douglas Burton, a Washington-based independent writer and researcher,  is the Managing Editor of TruthNigeria. Ebere Inyama is a journalist covering Southeastern Nigeria for TruthNigeria.

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