The This Day Newspapers report that Osun and Zamfara had been at the centre for illegal mining of gold because the mineral still had a massive demand despite the covid-19 induced lockdown adopted by many countries.
The newspaper reports that while the currency value of many countries had fallen because of a drop in economic activities, the price per ounce of gold had risen to almost $1 768.
It further stated many of the arrested illegal miners from other countries did not possess a valid visa to reside in Nigeria.
Corroborating this news, The Daily Trust Newspapers reported the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilakan Adegbite, stated the illegal mining of gold seemed attractive because of the skyrocketing price of gold.
Adegbite stated this while speaking to the news men on government’s plans to prosecute 19 foreign nationals recently arrested for illegal mining of gold in Osun and Zamfara states.
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The arrested illegal miners have been identified as citizens of China, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Nigeria.
The 17 foreigners arrested in Osun and the 2 in Zamfara would have their cases compiled before they would being charged to court.
Adegbite remarked that if Nigeria totally prevented her gold deposits from undue exploitation, revenue generated from it would have been comparable to oil and gas earnings.
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In another report, The Premium Times stated Osun State had announced the apprehension of 27 illegal miners. The arrested persons included17 Chinese and 10 Nigerians (including a traditional ruler).
The pickup was confirmed by Abdulahi Binuyo, Deputy Chief of Staff to the State Governor who stated the government would not fold her hands while her land was being degraded.
He noted the arrest was effected by the recently-established Osun State Security Task Force (Amotekun) within Ilesa and Ife.
Influential Persons Supporting Illegal Miners in Nigeria
Going by the reports of the Nigerian Punch Newspapers, the federal government had vowed to prosecute each arrested person in connection with illegal mining in Zamfara and Osun states in April, 2020.
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Olamilekan Adegbite, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, affirmed the government would contact the Chinese government over the involvement of some of their citizens in dastardly activity.
Olamilekan Adegbite, who spoke with news reporters at the Abuja on Friday, May 8, 2020, stated the federal government would not yield to pressure regarding the arrest of illegal miners in Osun and Zamfara.
The minister, stated the illegal miners were working for some highly-placed Nigerians and that the Nigerian government had decided to adopt diplomatic and legal measures towards addressing the illegal mining by foreigners in the country.
Public Health Implications of Illegal Gold Mining
In addition to this, The Premium Times newspapers report that illegal mining posed serious health and environmental hazards, underscoring why mining should be regulated.
For instance, illegal miners had polluted the Osun River with some harmful metals which had made water from the river unfit for human consumption and for the irrigation of farm crops.
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