By Ignatius Okorocha
Alarmed by the loss of $9 billion to the activities of illegal mining and smuggling of gold in parts of the country, Senate on Wednesday asked its committees on Solid mineral, Mines, Steal Development and Metallurgy to investigate leakages and report back to it for further legislative action.
The upper chamber urged the Executive arm to intensify efforts to combat illegal mining activities through the establishment of gold firms in parts of the country to assist artisans and miners.
The resolutions were sequel to a motion sponsored by the Senate ,Chief Whip, Sen Orji Uzor Kalu ( Abia North), tagged “Urgent need to investigate the loss of $9 billion annually due to illegal mining and smuggling gold in the country.”
In his lead debate, Sen. Uzor Kalu noted that despite the constitutional provision that all minerals in the country are the property of the state vested in the hands of the President of Nigeria, the nation lost close to $54billion from 2012 to 2018 due o illegal smuggling of gold.
According to him, the country is said to be losing about $9billion yearly to illegal mining and gold exportation, adding that the huge amount of money is unaccounted for.
He lamented that gold mining operation in the country is capable of providing no fewer than 250,000 jobs and over $500million annually in royalties and taxes to the federal government as mineral resources.
The lawmaker noted that data from the ministry of Solid minerals and Development show that there are gold deposits in FCT Abuja, Abia, Bauchi, Cross River, Edo, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi, Oyo, Kogi, Zamfara, Osun and Kaduna states.
He also observed that illegal activities in Zamfara, Kebbi, a Plateau and Osun are currently going on in collaboration with foreign nationals from countries like China and Burkina Faso,noting that these criminal activities have significant effect on insecurity in the mineral producing states.
In his contribution Senator, Sen Smart Adeyemi ( Kogi west) lamented that whereas the Federal government is saddled with the burden of borrowing to finance its budget while so much of its revenues are being siphoned through illegal mining.
He stressed the need to empower ministry of Solid Mineral development to tighten leakages open to illegal miners with a view to contribute meaningfully to the nation’s revenue earnings.