BENIN-CITY: The Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has arrested over 15 companies operating illegally in Edo State with yet another one, Update Industrial Trading Company Limited, alleged to be evading arrest.
The Nigerian Observer Investigation gathered that the ministry which has the mandate to regulate the solid minerals and mining sector on the Exclusive Legislative List has a core target to increase revenue generation and ensure environmental compliance from operators in the State and as a result embarked on sensitization and compliance campaign.
An Impeccable source close to the ministry revealed that the efforts of the ministry were thwarted as some of the mining companies were heavily being protected and that a blood bath was almost averted at the Update Industrial Trading Company Limited site, one of the companies operating illegally and is protected by men of the Nigeria Police at his site, but for wisdom employed by the ministry officials who retreated with their back up protection under the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
According to the source about 40 companies had so far regularized their mining operations and noted that it was disconcerting that the numbers of companies operating illegally are more than the registered ones, resulting in loss of revenue to the Federal government and adverse environmental degradation.
‘’We adhered to due process, we have done all that we were expected to do and wrote a demand notice to the company concerned requesting for valid Mineral Title of the mining operation, Community Development Agreement signed with the host community and approval by the ministry, Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation Programme approved by the ministry and Environmental Impact Assessment Statement/Report approved by the Federal Ministry of Environment’’, but they were not forth coming with any of these requests made to them, the source revealed.
Besides, it was learnt that the company had been owing the federal government the sum of N1, 350,000.00 (One Million Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand naira) for the periods June 2016 to March, 2017.
On the security situation and the attempted blood bath, the source disclosed that the ministry had informed the Commissioner of Police, Edo State of the incident and drew his attention to section 146(i-iv) of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 which gives any officer of the Ministry duly authorized in that behalf to carry out an arrest without warrant, any person whom he finds committing or suspects to have committed an offence under the Act or Regulation and may by notice in writing require any lessee or any person employed by the lessee or holder to appear before the Mines Officer at a reasonable time and place and give information regarding mining operations in or about the area of the mining which he possesses, and the lessee, holder or other person shall comply with the notice and give the information.