The Federal Government has revealed how illegal mining activities aggravated insecurity in Zamfara, before its April 7 prohibition order and launch of special operations to stop bandits in the state.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who featured on a Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) programme, “Good Morning Nigeria,” monitored in Abuja, yesterday, said banditry, kidnapping, killing and cattle rustling were largely sponsored by the illegal miners in the state.
The minister reiterated that the miners were fuelling instability in the state; to pave way for their illegal activities.
“People begin to ask what is the nexus between instability in Zamfara, kidnapping and banditry and illegal mining.There is a lot. For instance, if you are doing illegal mining, ab initio, it is illegal. The more unsettled the area is the better for you. We found out that a lot of ammunition and money were being turned out to the bandits; so as to make the area ungovernable. The higher the crises, the better for the illegal miners,” he said.
The minister added that commencement of Operation Puff Adder, a full scale security offensive against the bandits, yielded results in the past weeks.
“We have a harvest of criminals; many of them arrested, their actions neutralised and cache of ammunition recovered. On April 14, they neutralised 11 kidnappers, recovered six AK47 and 1,200 rounds of ammunition.
“Shortly after that, they were able to arrest those who kidnapped the Channels Television correspondent,” he said.
Mohammed urged Nigerians to give credit to the police and the military who, though overstretched, are doing their best to keep the country safe.
The federal government banned mining activities in Zamfara, and ordered foreigners within mining sites to vacate the area within 48 hours.
Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who disclosed this after a security meeting at the Presidential Villa on April 7, said the licences of individuals and companies that disobey the directive to stop the activities would be revoked.
Adamu had assured of sustained efforts to flush out, and permanently put an end to banditry and criminality in the state.
Meanwhile, government has said it is working hard to ensure the type of leadership which emerged in 2015 does not emerge when President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurates the Ninth National Assembly in June.
Mohammed said the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government is working towards having a National Assembly that would work in synergy with the Executive; for seamless execution of its agenda towards the delivery of democracy dividends to Nigerians.
He stressed that for all the propounded programmes and policies of government to materialise in the next four years, there was the need for a legislative arm that would work in tandem with the executive arm.
“As far as we respect the independence of the legislative arm of government, we also believe that especially when a party has done very well in both legislative and executive elections, there should be a synergy between the legislative and the executive arms of government.
“I want to assure you that we are doing the right thing this time around and we will not end up with the kind of situation we had from 2015 to 2019.
“We will not have a situation where it will seem that the leadership of the National Assembly is working for the opposition or where members of the same party are working at cross purposes.
“This time around, we will get it right; we will have good relationship with the National Assembly and we will work very well with the Legislature,” he said.