Govt Officials Adamant As Foreign Nationals Pollute FCT Community In Illegal Mining

For the umpteenth time, the Federal Government of Nigeria has been urged to address the rampant proliferation of illegal mining sites in the country, which is contributing to revenue loss and threatens the health of citizens.

Programme Officer, Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), Felicia Dairo, blamed Nigeria’s continued loss of revenue to illegal mining on high-level connivance between government officials, traditional leaders, and foreign nationals.

A report published by MAWA Foundation had stated that the activities of a Chinese mining firm were contaminating and shrinking the water source of inhabitants of the Bmuko community in the Bwari Area Council of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The report also says that people in the community risk other health hazards due to air pollution.

Felicia Dairo

Speaking during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja, Dairo who noted that illegal mining activities are now the order of the day, adding that the situation is driven by corruption and highly placed Nigerians.

Reacting to the travails of the Bmuko community in Bwari, she noted that illegal mining and lack of attention to health dangers mining activities expose citizens to is made possible by the connivance of security officials with the unlawful mining operators and the community leaders.

“The plight of the FCT community is obtainable anywhere illegal mining activities occur.

“Chinese are not Nigerians. They are strangers. There is no way a stranger can come to your terrain without the help of people around to help him.

“Two years ago, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adedigite, mentioned that they arrested some illegal mining operators, about 27 of them, and out of them, 17 were Chinese nationals, and after a while, he came out again that he has been under pressure to release these Chinese guys, from powerful forces like he said, so we have that connivance.”

Dairo also noted that citizens affected by mining activities are afraid to raise the alarm because influential people are involved. At the same time, she is urging Civil Society Organisations to raise more awareness of the rights of citizens.

Her words: “Nigerians affected by mining activities are not speaking up because of fear. And it’s because some influential people in the communities are actually aware of some of these illegal activities, so there’s the fear of being victimized if they speak, and I don’t blame them.

“I think Civil Society has a major responsibility. It’s so sad that some of these community people don’t even know their rights. So it is important that CSOs keep empowering them, building their capacity to know their rights, and then to ensure that they speak up when such illegal mining operators come to their community,” Dairo advised.

Presenters interacting with resource persons durng the radio programme

Earlier, the Coordinator of MAWA Foundation, Audu Liberty Oseni, blamed the government for inaction about harmful mining activity in the Bmuko community in Bwari, FCT. He stressed that based on the community’s proximity, the authorities could not claim not to be aware of the health dangers the Chinese-run firm is causing to the Bmuko community.

Oseni called on the government to ensure the Community Development Agreement (CDA) is followed by mining companies, whether local or foreign, to ensure safety of the residents and the environment.

“My advice for the government is that there is a Community Development Agreement miners should adhere to.

“Because there are procedures, those who mine have the responsibility to protect the environment, and those whose land has been taken away, have to pay compensation. People don’t just come and start mining, no environmental assessment, nothing, at the end of the day, the community people begin to have an environmental impact.”

On his part, PRIMORG’s Media and Communications Officer, Chidozie Ogbonnaya, called on the government to be frontal with tackling illegal mining while blaming organizational failure and systemic corruption.

Advising the government on tackling illegal mining, he said: “We need to do a lot. Illegal mining is going on in every part of Nigeria. This corruption must be checked. We must be holistic and frontal about making sure that it stops.”

(From right) Programme Manager, PRIMORG, Adaobi Obiabunmuo; Programme Officer, Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), Felicia Dairo; Media & Communications Officer, PRIMORG, Chidozie Ogbonnaya and; Media & Research Assistant, PRIMORG, Esther Bassey.

Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.

The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.

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