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Cross River monarchs back govt’s ban on illegal mining


Traditional rulers of mining communities in Cross River State have called on the state government to be courageous in enforcing its recent ban on mining activities in all parts of the state.

Two days ago, Governor Bassey Otu issued an order signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Anthony Owan-Enoh banning all forms of illegal mining in any part of the state

It would be recalled that there was reported illegal mining in several local government areas of the State, including inside restricted places like the Cross River National Park where licences were even issued by the Cadastral Office Abuja to two firms to mine gold and other precious stones.

Public outcry and pressures from NGOs however forced them to rescind the decision.

There were reports that many of the big time illegal miners had come with heavily armed militias who wreaked havoc in host communities and confronted state security forces.

There were also some allegations that they lured youths and compromised certain community stakeholders without commensurate support to host communities.

The traditional rulers from central and northern parts of the state, including Obudu, Obanliku, Yala, Biase Obubra and others pledged their loyalty to the state government.

They spoke when the Commissioner for Mineral Resources, Hon Effiom-Ekaha Otu, in collaboration with the Chairman, Mineral Resources and Environmental Committee (MIREMCO) extended advocacy to the rural communities in the state with a view to increasing collaboration of the locals with the state government to forestall the menace of illegal miners.

They prayed for the sustainability of the zeal exhibited by the government to address the multifaceted challenges in the mining sector.

They promised to effectively cooperate with the state government to checkmate illegal mining in their domains.

According to them, the deceptive manner of approach by miners would no longer fly.

Youth leaders in the local government areas visited agreed that their folks had become increasingly vulnerable to the persuasive abilities of the miners due to the economic predicament prevalent in the country.

They appealed to the government to be practical in providing job opportunities for them in order to discourage many from patronizing the miners.

Meanwhile, the government officials outlined dangers of illegal minings, emphasizing that it was a criminal offence as it violated mining laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

They warned that perpetrators would be fished out and prosecuted, lamenting the devastating effects on the economy and the environment.

The Commissioner, Otu listed some dangers associated with illegal mining to include destruction of farm lands, water bodies and the general upheaval created by the excavation, exposure of the populace to the possible emission of dangerous chemicals from such craters and burrows, as well as the exploitation of the youths, jeopardizing their health.

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