By Obas Esiedesa
The Executive Director of Global Rights, Abiodun Baiyewu has urged the Federal Government to do more to protect the rights of mining host communities from the operation of miners in the country.
Baiyewu said given the losses suffered by host communities across the country, especially in Zamfara and Kogi States, mining companies have to be more responsible in their operations.
She spoke at the opening of a two-day workshop on ‘Translating the ECOWAS Mining Directive and regional instruments within the context of business and human rights in Abuja on Thursday.
She noted that there is urgent need to balance the need of businesses to thrive and rights of host communities to good health and clean environment.
According to her, “Mining is becoming a major concern in Nigeria and we must not make the mistakes we made with the hydrocarbon in the mining industry. If mining would work for the rights of Nigerians it must be a deliberate effort to ensure that rights of Nigerians are protected.
She pointed out that businesses should be concerned about human rights because “if they don’t they will create hostile communities. Hostile communities will eventually impact on their bottom line and their profit margin”.
She said Nigeria was yet to submit any document to ECOWAS despite 2014 being the deadline for the submission of implementation plan of the ECOWAS Mining Directives.
While observing that though ECOWAS has not developed any sanction for countries who fail to implement the directives, she pointed out that countries which were already implementing the plan were already reaping the benefits.
“In Ghana production is higher and the general state of the communities has become more peaceful since they started the implementation”, she added.
Baiyewu pointed out that most of the illicit financial flows from mining come largely from Nigeria, stating that Nigeria has more gold than Ghana.
She there urged the Federal Government to do more to protect mining host communities as they have become more vulnerable because of mining activities in their domain.
In his key address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Abdulkadir Muazu explained that as regulator, the Ministry recognizes that government and mining title holders have primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights in the country.
“We are mindful of the need to improve economic and social justice within the communities in decision making processes with regard to mineral exploitation as part of an efficient conflict prevention policy and strategy”, he added.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from agencies of government, operators and civil society organisations.