The Chairman, Osun State Task Force on Mining and Forestry, Elder Adelowo Adebiyi, has disclosed that the state has been losing millions of naira to illegal mining and exploration.
Elder Adebiyi who described Osun as a state being blessed with God-given natural resources and other rich solid mineral deposits, also said the state had recorded several incidents of unauthorized mining, exploration and deforestation.
The Chairman of the State Task Force on Mining and Forestry made the disclosure while touring journalists round the site where illegal mining and exploration were allegedly committed at Olode Falola village in Ikire, Irewole Local Government Area of the state.
Narating the incidence, Elder Adebiyi said, the suspects were arrested and handed over to the police following the Task Force visit to the site where the illegal mining and exploration is being perpetrated.
According to him, “We were here at Olode Falola village in Ikire, Irewole Local Government Area of the state sequel to a tip we received that some illegal miners have been exploring our solid mineral resources without exploring and mining licenses
“Fortunately for us, our task force team in company of security operatives met the perpetrators on the spot working with different exploratory apparatus like tractors, driller, generator, elevator among others to defraud the state of her resources illegally.
“We got them arrested and we handed them over to the police for further investigation.
Speaking on the procedural steps for mining and exploration, Elder Adebiyi said for anyone to be allowed to either explore or extract the resources such explorer or miner must have fulfilled all the constitutional requirements by obtaining the mining license from the federal government as well as operational permit from the state.
He confirmed that the interrogation with the suspects depicted that they were neither licensed nor authorized to explore the state mineral resources.
Elder Adebiyi who frowned at the occurrence which he described as high class illegal mining, however said the deploration of heavy machines to the site by the suspects unconstitutionally showed the level of losses being experienced by the state to illegal mining.
He expressed satisfaction towards the apprehension of the suspects, saying the state had over the years recorded similar cases.
Elder Adebiyi also said the suspects since being apprehended were unable to justify why they were exploring the resources of the sate.
He said “since the arrest, the suspects had not been able to justify the purpose of their coming to the state to explore.
“Information at our disposal revealed that these people have breached the constitutional provisions for mining and exploration because they failed to present to us any legal document to facilitate the purpose to which they came for.
“Till this present moment these people according to the police investigation were unable to authenticate what they came here to do.
“Though they claimed that they are processing their license but as a matter of fact they are not because no miner is allowed to explore without concrete evidence and permit to do so and these suspects couldn’t present any evidence to that effect.
He said the suspects were caught exploring the lime stones and feldspar which according him are main deposits in the axis.
When asked on the efforts of the state towards the protection of her resources, Elder Adebiyi said the inauguration of the Task Force on mining and forestry was part of the effort to ensure that people comply and adhere strictly to the rules and regulations necessitate mining and exploration of mineral resources.
He expressed displeasure over the way and manner at which people engaging in illegality, saying legal procedures are already in place for the people who are into mining and exploration.
The Task Force Chairman who attributed mining to an intensive business however elucidated that state was not in any way interested to disturb any person’s business but to enforce the laid down laws by ensuring that miners follow the due process.
He warned people against illegality, saying the state would not for whatever reason tolerate any act of indiscipline and unlawful mining.
Adebiyi assured those who are interested in mining the required cooperation, saying efforts are in top gear to develop the non-oil sectors of the state.
Elder Adebiyi therefore charged men of Nigeria Police Force to display utmost loyalty and competence in the course of their investigation, assuring the state of adequate security of lives and properties.
Meanwhile, efforts to speak to the state Police Public Relations Officer on the development were unsuccessful, as various calls and text messages sent across his phone were either switched off or not responding.