Jude Johnson with Agency report
The Federal Government on Wednesday revealed how illegal mining activities aggravated insecurity in Zamfara before its April 7 prohibition order and launch of special operations to stop bandits in the state.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, who featured on a Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Programme, Good Morning Nigeria, said banditry, kidnapping, killing and cattle rustling were largely sponsored by illegal miners in the state.
Speaking on the programme monitored in Abuja, the minister said the miners fueled instability in the state to pave way for their illegal activities.
“People begin to ask what is the nexus between instability in Zamfara, kidnapping and banditry and illegal mining.
“There is a lot. For instance, if you are doing illegal mining, the more unsettled the area is the better for you.
“We find out that a lot of ammunition and money were being turned out to the bandits so as to make the area ungovernable.
“The higher the rate of the crisis, the better for the illegal miners,” he said.
The minister said the commencement of Operation Puff Adder, a full scale security offensive against the bandits, had yielded results in the past weeks.
“We have a harvest of criminals, many of them arrested, their actions neutralised and cache of ammunition recovered.
“On April 14, they neutralised 11 kidnappers, recovered six AK-47, and 1,200 rounds of ammunition.
“Shortly after that, they were able to arrest those who kidnapped the Channels Television correspondent,” he said.
Mohammed urged Nigerians to give deserving credit to the Police and the military who, though overstretched, are doing their best to keep the country safe.
The Federal Government had banned mining activities in Zamfara, ordering foreigners within mining sites to vacate the area within 48 hours.
The Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who disclosed this after a security meeting at the presidential villa on April 7, said the licences of individuals and companies that disobey the directive to stop the activities would be revoked.
He had assured sustained efforts to flush out, and permanently put an end to banditry and criminality in the state.