From Tony Osauzo, Benin
Hundreds of illegal miners ordered to vacate gold and other solid minerals sites in Dagbala community have reportedly relocated to Ikpeshi, Atte and other communities in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State to continue their illegal mining activities, raising tensions in the affected communities.
The activities of the illegal miners are said to have heightened security concerns following the influx and invasion of people from neighbouring states into the local government area.
Illegal mining is reported to be thriving in the area because of the alleged connivance of the minners with some top officials in the Federal Ministry of Mines in the state, with reports that an official of the ministry relocated to an area where the illegal activities are rife.
Reacting to the development, a security aide to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Haruna Yusuf, said that the governor would tolerate illegal miners driven from Dagbala relocate to other parts of the state, adding that his attention was drawn to it on Monday.
‘We have chased away all people from Dagbala gold sites and our eagle eyed security men are on the lookout. We want peace and security in Edo State. I was just told about Ikpeshi and we are going to take necessary actions,’ he said.
The Zonal Mines Officer, South-South and Federal Mines Officer in charge of Edo State, Abudulkadir Usman Adamu, has denied any involvement of his ministry with illegal miners.
He advised interested miners seeking to obtain licenses to discuss with their communities before embarking on mining operations.
‘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, what we are strategising is to go back to Edo North because that is the most pronounced area in terms of mineral resources,’ he said.
Commenting on the activities of illegal miners in Ikpeshi, Adamu stated: ‘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, mobilize to site.’
Licensed solid mineral prospectors had in March raised the alarm over the activities of illegal miners and called on the Ministry of Mines to check illegal mining activities.