Two persons have been arrested, prosecuted and convicted for illegal possession of gemstones.
According to a statement signed by Tony Ekpo for the director of press, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD), the duo of Emeka Ezema and Ye Kachi were arrested on the 5th of July, 2022, in Cross River State, when they were found in possession of 300g of Tourmaline without any form of authorisation or license from the ministry.
This offence, the statement noted, is in breach of sections 2, 93, 94 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act (NMMA) 2007 and Regulation 133 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Regulation (NMMR) 2011.
The statement added that the MNSD, in collaboration with the Legal Unit of the Department of State Services in Cross River State, arraigned the two suspects in court on Wednesday, 13th July 2022.
The two suspects, it said, were charged with conspiracy to commit felony by possession of Tourmaline without licence under section 516 of the Criminal Code and unlawful possession of Tourmaline contrary to section 93 and punishable under section 146(2) of the NMMA 2007.
Following the guilty plea by the duo, they were convicted accordingly. Subsequently, the Court on Tuesday 26th July, 2022 also granted Engr. Mayowa Omosebi, Federal Mines Officer (FMO), Cross River State, to take possession of the forfeited 300g of Tourmaline, according to section 146(2) of the NMMA 2007.
The statement adds: “Mr. Mayowa Omosebi has confirmed that he is in possessions of the forfeited 300g of Tourmaline, and also suggested that the stones be disposed of at the current market value as stipulated in the Ministry’s reviewed rates for minerals which came into effect on the 1st of May, 2022, and that the minerals be auctioned only to persons who have valid licenses to purchase and possess minerals.”
The Ministry further commended Engr. Omosebi and the DSS in Cross River State[H1] for acting swiftly in the arrest and the conviction of the suspects, saying the action will serve as a deterrent to others who may wish to go that route in the future.
“This is also a good one for the Ministry and would serve to show that the Ministry actually has the power to convict criminals in the Solid Minerals Sector,” it said.