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FG Acquires 50 Vehicles to Crush Illegal Mining



FG Acquires 50 Vehicles to Crush Illegal Mining

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Federal Government on Thursday commissioned 50 operation vehicles for use by the Special Mines Surveillance taskforce and the State Minerals Resources and Environmental Management committee (MIREMCO) to fight its war against illegal mining activities in the country.

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Kayode Fayemi, who handed over the vehicles to the heads of the operation units, said strengthening the surveillance unit with operational vehicles and gadgets was part of government’s strategy to strengthen units in all the states of the federation.

Mr Fayemi spoke just as the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, represented by AIG Taiwo Lakanu, said the re-introduction of Mines Police was to support the economic diversification efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration through effective security of the mines.

The commissioning of the vehicles was done at a brief ceremony at the Ministry in Abuja, witnessed by the Minister of State, Mr Abubakar Bawa Bwari; Permanent Secretary, Dr Abdulkadir Muazu, representative of the Inspector General of Police, AIG Taiwo Lakanu;  Deputy Commandant General, Nigerian Civil Defence Corp, Kelechi Madu; and Chairman MIREMCO, Edo State, Mr Dan Inneh.

Mr Fayemi said the special surveillance task force and the MIREMCO had not been able to deliver effectively on their mandate due lack of required logistics, a situation, which according to him, has led to a surge in illegal mining activities.

“Considering the alarming rate the illegal mining has posed against the present administration’s efforts in diversifying the economy, Government has decided to take a coordinated approach to curtail the menace, sanitize the mines-field and position the sector on the path of sustainable development, hence the resuscitation of the Special Mines Surveillance Taskforce (SMSTF) in 2017. It may be recalled that the Task Force was establish in 2012,” he said.

Speaking further, the Minister said:  “As a strategy to strengthen the Taskforce in all the States of the Federation and the FCT, 40 Toyota Hilux vehicles have been procured. The vehicles will be commissioned today and their usage flagged-off.

“I am optimistic that with the commissioning of these vehicles and the provision of necessary logistics for the operations of the Taskforce and MIREMCOs, the illegal activities would be reduced drastically and our relationship with our state governments would be strengthened.

“MIREMCO is a statutory mechanism established by Section 19 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 to create synergy between Federal, State and Local Governments for the Sustainable Development of Solid Minerals Resources in the Country. The Committee is to operate in all the States of the Federation including the FCT and its functions, as stipulated in the extant Act, is to advise the Minister on all issues relating to the Mineral Resources Development, Environmental Protection, Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources, conflict resolutions and other environmental and social issues. The Committee became operational with the inauguration of the 37 Committee chairman on the 19th August, 2017 in Abuja.

“Due to lack of required logistics, the Special Mines Surveillance Taskforce and MIREMCO could not deliver their mandates and this led to upsurge in the activities of illegal mining across the States of the Federation and strained relationship with States and Local Governments.

“The first fifteen (15) States with functional MIREMCOs have already received the sum of Five (5) Million Naira each, as mobilization grants and ten (10) Hilux pick-up Vehicles were procured for the first ten (10) States,” the Minister said.

The Police IG, who hailed the provision of surveillance vehicles said the force approved the setting up of the Mines Police following request from the Minister.

He said the Mines Police is headed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Tunde Mobayo, is saddled with the responsibility of securing the mines against the scrounge of illegal mining.

He explained that for its operations at the states, the Mines Police would work with the Counter Terrorist Unit of the Nigerian Police.

The Deputy Commandant General of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corp, Kelechi Madu, who hailed the provision of operation vehicles for the Mining surveillance said it would enhance optimal performance of the sector.

Madu revealed that over 500 illegal miners had so far been apprehended. While 21 have been convicted, some were released at the discretion of the Mines Offices in the states.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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BEDC Promises to Restore Electricity to Delta Community



benin electricity distribution company BEDC

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) has promised to restore electricity to the Agbarho community in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.

This was disclosed by the Head of the Community Relations of BEDC, Mr Simple Ugherakpoteri, at a meeting between the company and leaders of the community.

He explained that the prolonged power outage in the community was caused by a heavy downpour that destroyed electric poles.

He stated that BEDC’s men were already working and power will be restored immediately they are through.

Mr Ugherakpoteri also promised to look into the issue of overbilling and estimated bills complained about by the community.

Responding on behalf of the community, President General of Agbarho Urhobo Improvement Union, Mr Monday Igho-Odiphri, described the meeting as fruitful and expressed hope that power will be restored to the community as soon as possible.

He urged BEDC officials to keep to their own part of the agreement and promised to give all necessary assistance, assuring that the BEDC office will not be relocated from the community.

Recently, members of the Delta community took to the streets to protest against the incessant power outage in the area and outrageous estimated bills being imposed on them by the company.

BEDC is responsible for the retail distribution of electricity in Delta, Edo, Ekiti, and Ondo States with geographical coverage of 55,770 square kilometres.

The company operates from 25 business districts with approximately 350 offices located across the four states with about 13 million people and about 4 million households.

The DisCo is the 4th largest in distribution capacity and 3rd largest in the number of households among the Distribution Companies (Discos) in Nigeria.

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Apprehension Over AMCON MD’s Visit to EFCC



AMCON Ahmed Kuru

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The visit of the Managing Director of Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr Ahmed Kuru, to the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is already causing apprehension.

Mr Kuru was reportedly grilled by the anti-graft agency on Wednesday after he was invited by the organisation for questioning.

Already, it is being speculated that his ordeal with the EFCC may be connected with the plans by AMCON to name and shame chronic debtors, who took loans from commercial banks but refused to repay as promised.

Yesterday, the AMCON MD was grilled by the agency over allegations bordering on the diversion of assets and the sale of the properties to his associates at ridiculous prices.

According to reports, Mr Kuru allegedly sold properties valued at billions of naira belonging to Atlantic to another despite a court case on the assets.

Atlantic was accused of loan default with Skye Bank and the properties in collateral were seized and allegedly sold below the prevailing market value while the action was instituted in court.

Amid these accusations, the EFCC is yet to comment at the time of filing this report.

AMCON is an agency set up by the federal government to acquire all toxic loans of commercial banks, with the aim of recovering them.

In November 2021, the agency submitted a list containing its top 1,000 obligors owing N4.4 trillion to the National Assembly.

Mr Kuru had said with the support of the parliament and the Judiciary, recovering the total current exposure on all Eligible Bank Asset (EBAs), which stands at N4.4 trillion, may be possible before the sunset period.

He had lamented that more recently, due to the socio-economic downturn, the market values of assets have significantly reduced, lower than the valuation at the point of EBAs purchase, making it extremely difficult to consummate sales transactions.

“To enable AMCON to succeed in its national call to duty, AMCON solicits the continued support of this Distinguished Committee. The Judiciary must be encouraged to respect the provisions of the law that require them to fast-track cases before them, issue certificates of judgement on properties, which the Corporation has no collateral and demand debtors to deposit Judgment sum before proceeding to appeal any judgement,” he had stated.

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NSCDC Denies Operating Illegal Oil Bunkering Site



Illegal Oil Bunkering Site

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has debunked the rumour that its marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro jetty, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, was an illegal oil bunkering site.

This was made known by the Rivers State Commandant of NSCDC, Mr Aliyu Bature, who explained that the Ogbogoro jetty has remained its marine exhibits yard for over 10 years.

He added that every marine exhibit like boats, vessels, barges drums, arrested by or handed over to the Corps by sister agencies for oil theft are usually detained at the yard, pending investigation and court prosecution.

This follows claims made by Obio/Akpor LGA Chairman, Mr George Ariolu, that the NSCDC marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro was being used for illegal bunkering activities.

In the reaction to the allegation, Mr Bature disclosed that the NSCDC Commandant General, Mr Abubakar Audi, in December 2021 visited the said yard, maintaining that it was a known fact that the yard has been the Corps’ marine exhibits yard.

The agency said some of the exhibits, including 220 drums of AGO and eight Cotonou boats in the yard were seized by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to the NSCDC last week, while other vessels were taken by operatives of the Corps.

He disclosed that the agency has got an intelligence report that hoodlums were planning to attack the yard, by setting it ablaze in order to destroy the exhibits, assuring that such plans will be strongly resisted.

“This place is our marine exhibits yard and not an illegal dump. Most of the exhibits here were arrested by the Navy and handed over to us, while some of the arrests too were made by us.

“The commandant general was here in December and he’s aware that this place is our exhibits yard.

“The Commandant General has deployed personnel to ensure the place is secured, Ogbogoro jetty is a no-go area for anybody because destroying this place means destroying the exhibits to prove that these products were all stolen.

“We had it on good authority that hoodlums were planning to attack this place in order to destroy the exhibits and we will not allow that,” the statement said.

The NSCDC also urged members of the public to report any personnel of the organisation who is involved in the business of aiding and abetting oil theft, illegal bunkering and vandalism, warning that the agency will not hesitate to show such person the way out.

“If any of our personnel is caught, please report the person to us and we will discipline the person accordingly.

“The NSCDC leadership does not in any way condone acts of indiscipline. We are charged to protect critical national assets and if any of our personnel is involved, we will not take it likely.

“That is why those who were in charge of the anti-vandal unit have been disbanded, and are being investigated currently by the committee set up by the Commandant General,” the statement said.

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