The Kwara State Government has declared its support for the Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in the fight against illegal mining operators in the state.
The state government, however, urged the anti-graft agency not to be deterred by the antics of some corrupt individuals who are benefiting from the illegal operation, as corruption would always fight back.
Okanlawon Musa Olarewaju, permanent secretary, solid minerals, Ministry of Solid Minerals Development in the state, gave the assurance when he led the management staff of the ministry on a courtesy call on Ilorin Zonal Commander of the EFCC, Michael Nzekwe.
Okanlawon assured that the state government was solidly behind EFCC in its efforts to rid the state of illegal miners who are operating at different locations across the 16 Local Government Areas of the State.
“We are following your activities closely, especially the latest arrest of some Chinese Nationals over alleged illegal mining in the state. The Chinese has a company in Olayinka, Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State.
“When I visited the place, I almost shed tears. The place is not developed, the roads there are not motorable and yet the company is not paying royalty to the Government.
“No fewer than 230 (Two Hundred and Thirty) mining operators were in Kwara State and none of them had come forward to revalidate their license. He added that, “we have called them now to come to the ministry to bring their documents for regularisation and revalidation,” the Permanent Secretary informed.
Responding, the Zonal Commander, Nzekwe thanked the Ministry for throwing its support behind the EFCC’s fight against corruption, particularly its onslaught against illegal mining operators in the state.
He said, “such support and collaboration from stakeholders is what EFCC need to stamp out corruption in Nigeria.”
Nzekwe, vowed to ensure that the operators abide by the rules of the game by paying royalties to government and also obey the local content law.
He also hinted on plans by the Commission to set up a taskforce to tackle illegal mining operators across the 16 Local Government Areas of the state.
According to him, the EFCC shall prosecute suspects arrested by the taskforce, which would comprise of representatives of all law enforcement agencies in the state.
He said that the first task of the committee would be meeting with all the stakeholders to get supports for the fight against illegal mining business in the state.
The Zonal Commander disclosed that the Ilorin Zonal Command of the EFCC within the last one year had secured the conviction of five illegal mining operators aside the huge amount of money recovered from the sector, adding that the Commission not be weary in bringing the perpetrators to justice.