No fewer than 11 persons, including a former counselor, were arrested on Wednesday by a special task force against illegal mining.
The suspects were caught excavating on a portion of land allegedly occupied illegally by one Chief Abraham Idowu Akanle at Ijigun, Itele in the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Council, in Ogun State.
The Task Force comprising Military men, Nigerian Civil Defence Corps personnel and others from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development led by one Engr Ayelabola Olubunmi busted the illegal miners on the land spanning about one square kilometer.
15 excavators, 2 pickups, 1 Pail loader, 1 Mitsubishi vehicle and the sum of N11,900 from one Ezekiel Ojebisi who claimed to be a Ticketer to vehicles loading sand were confiscated from the illegal miners,
Describing the illegal mining on the land as economic sabotage, Engr Olubunmi said, “The ministry is braced up to stop any group or individuals, anywhere, working to frustrate or scuttle the ministry’s mandate of unlocking the economic potentials of the solid minerals sub-sector in Nigeria”.
“The occupiers have been here for the past three to four years without paying a single kobo or royalty to the Federal Government. We are here to put an end to such illegal activities”.
A Lagos based lawyer and human rights activist, Barrister Debo Adeleke had earlier written a petition to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, at the FCIID Annex, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi Lagos complaining of illegal occupation of the same land by some hoodlums.
According to the lawyer, his client, one Alhaji Ibrahim Gbenga Ibuoye is the legal and equitable owner of the large piece of the land, which he said has been highjacked by some powerful people without a license.
The lawyer had written, “Our client who is in possession of all the permits, licenses, family receipt, deed of assignment from the Federal Ministry of Mines and had been in occupation for years for the purpose of continuing with his business of excavation of silt with the requisite permits without any adverse claim”.
Speaking further, Olubunmi said, “We have started the sensitization campaign warning those involved in illegal mining activities in any part of the country to desist”.
“We want to see those occupying this land. We know there would be a reaction after this operation. This reaction will help us to know those behind the illegal mining”. Olubunmi revealed.
Engr Olubunmi assured that the task force operation would not be an exercise in futility, as the Federal Government armed security agents would be stationed on the land.