The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD), has clarified that the recent proposition by the federal government to ban mining and commercial motorcycle activities was not aimed at legitimate miners.
A statement signed by the ministry’s director, press and public relations, Etore Efiom Thomas, and made available to journalists, allayed the fears of registered miners that their activities could be stopped as part of government’s recently announced plan to ban miners and okada as a way of combating terrorist activities in the country.
The statement reads in part: “It is necessary to clarify that the measures being considered by the Security Council are targeted to cut off sources of funding and logistics, which terrorists have leveraged on to execute their nefarious activities, although government is yet to take decision on the matter. To this end, the Ministry wishes to inform the public that for the safety and security of the country, efforts are being intensified against illegal mining activities across the country as this has been established to have connections with banditry and kidnapping. The additional measures that may be taken are therefore targeted at the activities of illegal miners and not legitimate operators in the sector.”
It added that the ministry advised duly registered miners to continue with their operations, while adhering to safe mining protocols and ensuring that security is given priority in their various sites.
The statement affirmed that the federal government retains the powers under the law to control extractive activities in the country.
“For purposes of clarity, mineral resources remain on the Exclusive Legislative list as enshrined in the 1999 constitution (as amended). Section 44(3) states, ‘The entire property in and control of all minerals, mineral oils and natural gas in, under or upon any land in Nigeria or in, under or upon the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of Nigeria shall vest in the government of the federation and shall be managed in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly”.
“Likewise, the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007 is very clear on issue of minerals ownership and exploitation – Section 1(1) says, “The entire property in and control of all mineral resources in, under or upon any land in Nigeria, its contiguous continental shelf and all rivers, streams and water courses throughout Nigeria, any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone is and shall be vested in the government of the federation for and on behalf of the people of Nigeria,” it said, adding that the ministry’s role is to advise on the formulation and execution of laws and regulations guiding mining and other activities.