FEDERAL GOVT WARNS STATE GOVS AGAINST INTERFERENCE IN MINING ACTIVITIES

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The Federal Government, represented by the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Oladele Alake, has declared that state governments lack the jurisdiction to regulate mining activities. Dr. Alake emphasised that state-imposed bans on mining are both illegal and in violation of the constitution. Speaking at a press conference in Abuja ahead of the 8th Nigerian Mining Week 2023, he clarified, “No state, I repeat, no state, has the authority to interfere in mining operations. It’s a constitutional matter.”

Dr. Alake further expounded that mining falls exclusively within the purview of the Federal Government according to the Constitution; firmly placing it in the exclusive legislative list. He buttressed the point saying: “Every item on the exclusive legislative list belongs to the Federal Government…Mining, like oil and solid minerals, belongs in the exclusive legislative.”

He urged states interested in mining activities to follow due process and apply for licenses through the Minister for Solid Minerals. He cautioned against unilateral state regulation, likening it to a state unilaterally banning oil exploration, labelling such actions as “downright illegal.”

However, Dr. Alake pointed out that the Federal Government’s intent is not to confront states but rather to engage and educate them on the correct procedures. He disclosed meetings with the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and several state governors to address the issue. It has been revealed that states such as Kebbi, Zamfara, Taraba, and Osun have recently implemented bans on mining.

Kebbi State Government justified its ban on illegal mining as a means to regulate activities; with the Chief Press Secretary, Ahmed Idris, stating: “We ban the activities temporarily so as to regulate it, and have accurate data on what is happening there…We also believe it will help the government in improving its revenue.”

In Zamfara, the state government cited security challenges as the basis for banning illegal mining. The Commissioner of Information, Munnir Haidara, clarified that the state government acknowledges it lacks the authority to ban mining outright. He stated that the ban is temporary and enforced until the security situation stabilises.

In September, Minister Alake issued an ultimatum of 30 days for all miners engaged in illegal mineral extraction to join recognised mining cooperatives or face legal consequences. He also announced plans to establish a surveillance task force to enhance mine security.

Dr. Alake extended the ultimatum by another 30 days, explaining that the extension is meant to facilitate miners in formalising their operations and becoming legitimate, bankable investments. He cautioned that mining companies failing to comply with community development agreements or necessary regulations risk losing their licenses.

In a recent report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), it was revealed that 82 mining companies failed to fulfil mandatory social payments to host communities. Out of 121 companies, only 39 adhered to the community development agreement; indicating a significant compliance gap.

NEITI recommended that the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Mining Cadastre Office develop a framework to monitor compliance with the Mineral and Mining Act 2007, and the Minerals and Mining Regulations 2011, along with penalties for non-compliance and their effective enforcement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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