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No going back on capital punishment for illegal gold miners – FG

The Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, on Tuesday, in Abuja insisted that capital punishment against illegal miners is the potent way of stopping fleecing of nation’s resources in the mining and solid minerals sector.

This was even as he said that the ministry has projected N7.3billion as internally generated revenue, IGR for 2022 fiscal year.

Ogah, who spoke when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, to defend the ministry’s 2022 budget, maintained that this was invariably way of raking in the required revenues from the sector.

According to the minister, the projected N7.3billion in 2022 will be N1.1billion higher than N6.2billion generated and remitted for 2021.

He said the total budget profile for the ministry and 10 agencies under it for the 2022 fiscal year is N23.4billion out of which N10.3billion is earmarked for personnel cost, N1.7billion for overhead and N11.4billion for capital projects.

The estimates, he explained, is about a billion naira lower than the N24.44billion appropriated for the ministry and agencies under it in the outgoing 2021 fiscal year.

The Committee chaired by Senator Tanko Al-Makura (APC Nasarawa South), however tackled the minister on the projected revenue and the menace of illegal mining in the country.

A member of the committee, Senator Francis Fadahunsi (PDP Osun East) told the minister that the N7.3billion revenue projections was not impressive against the backdrop of illegal mining happening in the sector with reckless abandonment.

“Your ministry needs to rise up to the challenge of tackling the menace of illegal mining which is robbing the country nothing less than N100billion on yearly basis.

“What is expected from your ministry and various agencies under it as IGR on yearly basis is nothing short of N100billion.

“You must liaise with the Ministry of Interior to curtail influx of illegal immigrants, particularly Chinese who have taken over the gold mines across the country even with security backup from military and Police,” he said.

Other members of the committee like Senators Adelere Oriolowo (APC Osun West), Emmanuel Orker-Jev (PDP Benue North West) etc, also tasked the minister to rise up to the challenge of insecurity and economic sabotage in the sector.

But the minister in his response, said solution for illegal mining in the country lies on required laws and punishment against it which according to him, should come by way of legislation from the National Assembly.

“Required potent laws are needed to confront the menace of illegal mining in the sector in form of capital punishment against offenders as earlier proposed before this committee few weeks back .

“We are already collaborating with the Office of the Minister of Justice for a bill to that effect,” he said.

On Ajaokuta, he said a Presidential committee is already working on its resuscitation and required memos already submitted to President Buhari for approval.




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