The Minister of State for Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Dr Uche Ogah has called on the National Assembly to urgently come up with legislation that would place illegal mining under capital punishment.

The Minister made the call at the public and investigative hearing on the alleged loss of 9 Billion Dollars annually due to illegal mining and smuggling of Gold organized by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy in Abuja.

Dr Ogah told the Senate Committee that this is one of many ways to curb the ongoing massive looting of the nation’s natural resources and ensure that Nigerians reap the benefits of God’s given resources.

The Minister also made sucking revelations when he accused some Private Jets Owners, top security personnel as well as host communities of being behind illegal mining of gold and other minerals in the country.

“Gold Smuggling in Nigeria are often done using Private Jets, the very reason why Private Jets ownership and operations, need to be streamlined in the country,” he said.

The minister lamented further that Gold Smuggling and Illegal Mining which are robbing the country of billions of dollars on yearly basis thrive due to series of factors like connivance of security agencies with the offenders, host communities collaboration, low level of application of technology and negative mindsets of Nigerians to Nigeria.

He stressed that ” For these crimes to be fought decisively, potent punitive measure like capital punishment, need to be legally provided for “.

He however added that the menace can be tackled proactively through the establishment of Mines Police, Special Court or Tribunals to try offenders, adequate funding for the Ministry and positive mindsets of Nigerians to Nigeria.

Also speaking in the same vein, a member of the Committee, Senator Francis Fadaunsi ( PDP Osun East ) , alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), made smuggling so easy in Nigeria.

The Apex bank he explained, facilitates the menace, through its lopsided and exclusive policy on FOREX availability to Nigerians.

In his remarks at the end of the investigative hearing, the Chairman Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Tanko Al-Makita (APC Nasarawa South) said the Senate will consider the minister’s request on capital punishment to serve as a deterrent against illegal mining activities in the country.

According to him, “The Minister is making the call in good faith because if you look at the traumas that are visited on families, businesses, outfits, I think such punishment is not too primitive because if we allowed illegal mining to go beyond this stage, the number of lives that will be lost will be colossus so any punitive measure that could be put in place that could be deterrent against these illegal activities which cause revenue loss, disruption of environment among others is welcomed.” he said.

Senator Tanko Al- Makura however said for thorough investigation of the menace and required way out, heads of relevant government agencies, will be summoned for more clinical interface.

The agencies as mentioned by him are; the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), Nigeria Customs Service ( NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service ( NIS), Nigeria Police, Department of State Services ( DSS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) and the Nigerian Ports Authority ( NPA) among other relevant agencies.

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