ILLEGAL MINING IN ZAMFARA:
How Government Appointees Fuels Activities of Illegal Miners.
•Illegal Miners takes over Sauna Mine Site
• Sole Administrator of Talata Mafara Fingered
By : Mike Odeh James
Despite the efforts of the Federal and State Governments to curb the activities of men and women who engaged in mining activities without permit from the relevant authorities, investigations have uncovered an organized group of individuals who actually helps fuel the activities of ilegal miners in Zamfara State.
According to my Findiings the Sole Administrator of Talata Marafa, Alhaji Abubakar Mai Naira and some other highly placed officials in the Service of Zamfara State Government have been actively involved in subverting the Federal Government ban on mining activities in Zamfara by recruiting and deploying illegal miners into gold mines for their nefarious acts .
According to our sources, the Sole Administrator used the opportunity of the lull in mining occasioned by the ban to deploy illegal miners, excavators to gold mines that hitherto belongs to some entrepreneurs in the state to commence mining operations.
Following a tipoff, i decided to visit one of the mine fields allegedly seized by Alhaji Mai Naira.
The Mine field which is located in Sauna Village in Talata Mafara Local Government Area of the state was heavily guarded by mobile policemen who were also armed, and an excavator was seen in operation. However, the policeman would not allow anyone to come very close to the field let alone entertain any question or take photographs of the field.
As of the time i visited the site, no activitiy was going on , However, villagers who are living close to the field confirmed that Mining activities takes place within the hours of 8pm to 4am evryday
According to Mallam Dalhatu Usman, “every day around 8 o’clock in the evening to 4 ‘o’clock in the morning heavy activities and sounds are heard coming from the minefield
” we can see people moving around, digging, talking and at times shouting”, he added.
Abdullahi Osman of the same community also added that , every night , heavy duty trucks go in and out of the Sauna mining site
When asked, what is taking place inside the barbed wired field, most of the villagers alleged that “ana satan muna zinari” roughly translates into “they are mining gold illegally’.
Though, i could not confirm whether the activities taking place there is mining but it is evident that the excavator in the field is used for mining .Further interaction with the villagers confirms that point mining albeit illegally is taking place there .
I then contacted one Mr.Sam the Federal Mines officer in Zamfara State but he declined to comment, saying that we should contact the Commissioner of Police in the State.
He acknowledged that there was a petition that accused Alhaji Mai Naira of illegal digging for gold in Sauna .
After repeated attempts, DH correspondent finally spoke to Alhaji Shamsudeen Sani Dahiru, General Manager of Metro Bright General Merchants Limited.
Alhaji Dahiru alleged that the Sauna Mine site belongs to his company – Metro Bright General Merchants LTD and he went further to present photocopies of the followings;
Exploration License issued by Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, Abuja
Notification of Grants For Application of No.24813 EL
Revenue Collectors Receipts dated 17 February 2020 with full payments made
A letter of mobilisation to the sauna mining site.
He went further to explain that immediately after the issuance of the letter of mobilization, the Federal Government placed a ban on mining activities in the state, that was in 2019.
He added that he started getting reports of illegal mining activities in Sauna field and when he got to the site, he discovered that it was fenced and security forces deployed to the area.
” on futher enquires, I was told that the Sole Administrator of Talata Marafa had taken over the site and have been digging gold” , Dahiru said .
The GM of Metro Bright Merchant Limited went on to explain that he immediately contacted the commandant of National Security and Civil Defence Corp,NSCDC and told him about his findings.
In his words, “after my meeting, with the NSCDC boss, I was asked to write a petition which I did .
” The NSCDC then asked that i should get their operatives mobilized to the site to reclaim my land.
“I was surprised to observe that the NSCDC which showed willingness to help later became reluctant to go and see what my complains were all about
The entrepreneur also spoke of the frustrations he had from the police and the State Security Services, SSS.
The businessman showed showed me photocopies of petition letters written by Metro Bright Merchant LTD to all the security agencies in the state which were acknowledged but nothing was done to bring the culprits to book
There were strong feelers from those contacted by those I contacted that the reasons why the security apparati in the state refused to move against the illegal occupation of the Sauna Mining Site is because the Sole Administratior who appropriated the site is connected to top government officials in the state .
Apart from that the name of one Aminu Danmaliki who is said to be the younger brother of the incumbent Governor, Bello Matawalle is also ringing a bell in the chain of illegal mining going on in the state and the current seizure of Sauna Mining site.
Those who made the allegations, also stressed the Sole Administrator of Talata Marafa is an appointee of the Governor of the state, therefore those at Government House in Gusau must have idea of what he is doing
There are also questions that are left hanging such as ;
who deployed policemen to protect miners in Sauna?
Why is mining ongoing on the site despite the Federal Government ban on mining activities?,
why are security operatives reluctant to move against the miners in Sauna Site when it was brought to their notices via Dahiru Sani’s petition?
In order to get answers,i called a media aide to the Governor , Idris Yusuf but he rejected the calls.A text message was sent to his phone but it went unreplied .
I also tried to contact the Sole Administrator of Talata Marafa to get his own side of the story but to no avail.
Before filing this report, the Secretary to the State Government was also contacted but all the enquiries went unanswered.
In the mean time, Alhaji Shamsudeen Dahiru Sani’s only appeal is that the Governor should intervene in the situation and help to recover his site .
Furthermore, the inhabitants of Sauna village are also calling on both the state and federal governments to help stop the activities of illegal miners in their area as the miners actions are threatening the security of the community .