The Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) has identified insecurity as a major bane to investment in Nigeria’s mining sector.
Lawal Mayere, the chairman of MAN, Kaduna chapter, said investors as well as licensed miners in the state were scared to operate due to incessant killings and kidnapping of miners by rampaging gunmen, according to a news service report.
According to him, attacks on artisanal miners have led to the death of about 40 miners including farmers, adding that six artisanal miners who were mining tin mineral four weeks ago were shot dead by gunmen in the ditch in Southern Kaduna.
Appealing to the federal government to ensure adequate security measures are installed in all mining sites across the country, Mayere said the sector may not function optimally if the nation’s development insecurity persists.
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He said the onus rests on the government to ensure a conducive environment for operation, adding that, “leaving security activities in the hands of mining investors is discouraging and it can make foreign mining investors not to invest in Nigeria. If the government cannot provide adequate security, that means it is not interested in the business of mining; how can mining strive in Nigeria or contribute to the gross domestic products (GDP)?”
The surveillance task force initiated by the ministry of mines and steel development, he said, has not been posted to Kaduna. “The surveillance task force is an ad-hoc body, it only shows up in any state that has illegal mining problem, they are not permanent in any state, they cannot curb insecurity,” Mayere said.
He further suggested that the government hires local security men as a mechanism to detect crimes easily.
But Patrick Ojenka, the director, artisanal and small scale mining department of the ministry said security was out of its purview.
“Every mining site is a den for criminals; attacks in Birnin Gwari have been consistent for quite some time now; therefore, insecurity is not in the ministry’s purview to solve,” he said.
He said the challenge was beyond the capacity of the ministry, saying that the ministry cannot provide security for miners but only an enabling environment to operate.
“Security can only be provided by the security agencies not the ministry,” adding that, “the surveillance task force initiated by the ministry could only intervene to some extent but not to be on mine field permanently,” Ojenka said.