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Corrupt Mining Cartel Backs Banditry in Nigeria: Minerals Minister

By TruthNigeria Staff

KadunaPowerful Northern politicians who have benefited from illegal mining in their states are sponsoring banditry in Nigeria, according to the Minister for Minerals and good government advocates.

Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake, said that some influential Nigerian politicians who have benefited from illegal mining in their states have threatened his life after he accused illegal miners of engaging in banditry in several parts of 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.

“I said it openly, and of course, I received threats, but we are undaunted because these things have to be said, and in any case, I wasn’t saying anything new, most people knew it,” Alake said.

“We found out through intelligence reports that some illegal miners are directly responsible for the upsurge of banditry in several parts of Nigeria,” Alake went on to say. “These are not your artisanal miners. They are not the people who pick gold on the ground. These are heavy and powerful individuals in our country. And they are Nigerians. They are not foreigners. Yes, you can see foreigners as symptoms, but they are not the disease. Nigerians are the powers behind those foreigners that you see on the streets”, he said.

Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake, from X.

“These bandits, being sponsored by highly placed people, have access to heavy funding and they have heavy arsenal, weaponry, arms and ammunition. They even lay mines on ground against our ground forces that are moving into the forest to dislodge them. One of the things that happen now even in the forest that is unknown to many people is that the bandits who the highly placed Nigerians are sponsoring have access to funding and heavy arsenal. Nigeria is gifted with solid minerals deposits such as Lithium, gold, copper, manganese, barium, tin, coal and columbite most of which are found in the Northern parts of the country,” said Alake.

Alake spoke January 23, 2024 at a mine explosion site in Ibadan. “We found out through intelligence reports that some illegal miners are directly responsible for the upsurge of banditry in several parts of Nigeria,” Alake said on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Weekend File on the plans and strategies to be deployed by the Federal Government to increase the contribution of mining to the economy.

Mine Police Proposed

The Federal Government plans to create a special police outfit to combat illegal mining across the country and the special police outfit will be called the “Mine Police,” Alake said.

Such a proposed security outfit would not be restricted to the mining sector, but its operation will cover marine and the blue economy, adding that the special police force will be controlled by the Ministry of Solid Minerals and that its personnel will answer to those in the ministry.

“Illegal mining takes place mainly in the North, and it is the big shots from those areas that mainly benefit from illegal mining,” said former President of Committee For Defence of Democracy (CDD), Comrade Abdul Bako during an interview with TruthNigeria.

According to David Otto, a London-based counter-terrorism expert, where mineral deposits are found, also are found Ansaru, Boko Haram and Islam in West Africa Province (ISWAP) members operating. Alake was appointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to particularly fight against the rampant illegal mining of mineral resources especially in the Northern parts of the country.

Why Is Alake Targeted For Elimination?

“There was a governor that took a lot of gold to the Federal Government during Buhari’s time,” Bako said. “This shows you clearly that there are some governors and high-profile government officials that are beneficiaries of illegal mining. Before then, no state was involved in extractive mining, however one state in the North has done that before and this shows you clearly that those people are behind the threat to the Minister. There may be other foot soldiers who felt threatened that their meal ticket is being threatened as well, so they may decide to act,” Bako said.

Alake further said the Federal Government through the ministry has provided a 60-day grace window for illegal artisanal miners to organize themselves, become bankable and pay royalties and taxes to the government. He said investors would get their mining licenses within 30 days, adding that the ministry would overhaul and fast-track the application- and licensing process.

Mine Theft Robs Public Naira Equivalent to  Billions of Dollars

Speaking during a courtesy visit by the Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, Mohammed Bello, in his office in Abuja on 29th January, 2024, Alake declared that the federal government of Nigeria is owed trillions of naira in unpaid royalties and taxes by legalized operators in the mining industry, adding that the government is committed to recovering these funds and also in the process of engaging internationally certified auditors to look at the system and automate the whole gamut of the revenue collection process.

Truthnigeria tried to contact the Mr. Alake via phone for him to explain more but he wasn’t picking his calls

Who Are These Powerful Nigerians?

Though the Minister did not state the names of those threatening him, Comrade Abdul Bako Usman says he believes the powerful Northern politicians who have benefited from illegal mining actives in their states are responsible for the recent threats to assassinate Alake. According to Usman, the current government may have been infiltrated by agents of some of these powerful sponsors of illegal miners.

A recent report by TruthNigeria states that Nigeria’s Minister of State For Defense, Bello Matawalle, has been accused of links with bandits and invested in solid mining while he was the governor of Zamfara between 2019-2023. 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, according to TruthNigeria.

Matawalle  reportedly played a substantial role in the electoral victory of President Tinubu.

Former Zamfara Gov. Abdulaziz Yari, photo via Facebook. 

A serving senator and member of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), Senator Abdulaziz Yari, is another powerful politician who has long been fingered for his connection with illegal gold miners. Yari narrowly missed becoming Nigeria’s Senate President. Yari also 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.

In March, 2021, the then Minister of State for Minerals and Steel Development, Uchechukwu Ogah, revealed at an event held at the University of Ibadan that money made from mining is being used to fund criminals who have infiltrated mining sites.

According to the Institute for Security Studies, a West African Think Tank, the bulk of the banditry in Zamfara State could be

fueled by gold mining,  whereby gold mined in the state is transported through illegal flights originating from the forests to a Middle Eastern country. TruthNigeria has spoken to confidential sources who say extracted gold from Zamfara has been paid for with arms shipments.

“Illegal foreign miners may also be part of larger criminal networks, making cooperation with China essential,” according to the January white paper from ISS.

Mike Odeh James is a veteran journalist in Kaduna. He writes on conflicts and crime and reports for TruthNigeria.

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