• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Mining and the increased risk of violent crimes

OAU denies granting lease agreement to illegal miners in Ile-Ife

Imagine the audacity! University land, meant to be a haven for learning and research, brazenly invaded by illegal miners. Their sole motivation? Greed. These actions not only threaten the environment but also the future of countless students. We can’t stand idly by as our academic spaces are ravaged by reckless disregard for the potential consequences. We need to act – and fast – to protect not just the environment but the future of education itself.

As I have pointed out in one of my previous interventions on this subject matter, the crisis in Zamfara today is the childbirth of mining. Today, Zamfara is a battlefield and a fertile ground for bandits because of the activities of miners. Back to OAU, what is being allowed on university land will definitely sink the greatness of the institution if caution is not sought. Unregulated mining does nothing but fuel community violence and disrupt peaceful coexistence; this is beyond the environmental damage and health hazards it causes.

The manner in which mining is being done at Obafemi Awolowo University is an exposure to the failure of regulatory oversight and gross inadequacies in the enforcement of regulatory compliance by respective governmental agencies. Or, how could mining have been done on university land without recourse to due process? I am confident that no EIA was conducted, not to mention having a CDA as enshrined in Section 116, Subsections 1 and 2, of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007. At least the university denied sanctioning mining, so how could a CDA have been conducted?

There is no doubt about the existence of organised criminals who are involved in illegal mining at the university. The security operatives must do well to unravel this mystery (if at all they won’t be compromised). It is even more embarrassing and shocking that the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals has not come out to issue a statement of clarification on the activities of miners at Obafemi Awolowo University, despite the fact that the issue has caught public and media attention. Did the Ministry sanction these miners without engaging the university management? The criminal silence of the minister emboldens perpetrators of such acts to continue unabated.

Considering the statement that was issued by the university management that they did not sanction mining activities in the university, it will not be wrong to assume that those perpetuating this mining on the university land area are fronting for politically connected individuals who collaborate with foreign nationals and corporations to extract gold and sell it. It amounts to illegality, and everyone involved must be arrested and prosecuted in order to serve as a deterrent for others.

The Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals owes the Nigerian people an explanation on how 11 companies were able to get a licence to mine at Obafemi Awolowo University without the approval of the university management. Such a situation as being witnessed in the OAU points to the already existing fear that proceeds from mining have been hijacked by some powerful individuals within the establishment. These proceeds, which are meant to end up as part of government revenue, are instead entering the pockets of some fascist elements in society.

The government can’t afford to be a bystander in the face of unregulated, reckless mining. This free-for-all environment breeds a dangerous reality: the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, as we’re witnessing today. Imagine – unregulated miners arming themselves and various factions to protect their claims, fearing invasion by rivals. This is the precarious situation we find ourselves in, demanding urgent action. We need a multi-pronged approach that tackles both the illegal mining and the influx of weapons. Otherwise, these lawless zones will continue to fester, threatening the safety and stability of our communities.

Kazeem Olalekan Israel writes from OAU, Ile-Ife.