By Modupe Gbadeyanka
One Alhaji Abdullahi Usman Abubakar otherwise known as Dan China and regarded as one of the most notorious illegal miners in Plateau State has been declared wanted by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Mr Babagana Monguno.
Mr Monguno ordered all security agencies to fish out and arrest the notorious illegal miner for acts seen as economic sabotage.
The NSA made gave this directive when he, in company with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, visited some illegal mining sites in the richly endowed lead/zinc belt.
During the visit on Monday, 16 Chinese nationals and eight Nigerians involved in massive illegal mining were apprehended in Zurak, Wase Local Government, Plateau State.
The Minister, in exercise of powers provided in Section 4 of the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act 2007, also declared a special mining zone over the lead/zinc in Kampala Zurak, directing the immediate stoppage of all mining activities in the area with the exception of duly licensed miners confirmed by the Mining Cadastre Office.
Plateau State Governor, Mr Simon Lalong, accompanied the Minister and the NSA on the reconnaissance mission to Wase LGA.
The arrested Nigerians have been in active connivance with non-Nigerians to carry out massive illegal mining in the state thereby depriving the country of revenue. Their activities have also led to environmental degradation and abandoned mine pits.
Zurak is a key location of substantial mineral deposits especially lead, zinc, copper, tin, wolframite, tantalite and other base metals.
Over time, the range of illegal mining activities has been recorded around the Zurak/Wase area leading to a huge loss of revenue, minable land and social displacement of the rural communities.
Chief amongst the illegal miners identified during the visit is Solid Unit Limited, owned by Mr Usman Abubakar (aka Dan China) who is notorious for economic terrorism and has a reputation for evading law enforcement agencies. Another notable culprit is Geotess Nigeria Limited owned by one Dr Kola Russel Ojo.
Under the Mining Act, the Minister has responsibility to “stop mining [activities] and take any action to ensure orderly development of the mineral resources”.
Dr Fayemi, in exercise of his powers, also directed the shutdown of the operations of Solid Unit Limited and Geotess Nigeria Limited.
While responding, Mr Lalong lamented the deprivation faced by people of Zurak despite the richness of the mineral resources that surround them. He called on the Federal Government to take necessary measures to curb illegal mining all over Plateau State.
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