Politicians, private jet owners, behind gold smuggling — Minister
Posted by News Express | 15 September 2021 | 78 times
• Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah
Revelations have emerged indicating that owners of private jets in the country aid the smuggling of illegally mined gold from parts of Nigeria.
The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah, made the revelation on Tuesday in Abuja when he presented the ministry’s position at an investigative hearing on $9billion lost annually to illegal mining and smuggling of Gold.
At the event organised by the Senate Commitee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Ogah called for capital punishment for offenders .
He said, “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 also disclosed that “illegal mining in Nigeria started far back in the early 1980s as a result of the indiginization policy of the military regime in the late 1970s.”
Lamenting that gold smuggling and illegal mining robs the country of billions of dollars annually, he opined that the menace was caused by the inability of indigenous workers to obtain mineral titles and required technology used by British miners before the indiginisation policy.
This is as he asserted that the situation is further aggravated by the connivance of security agencies with the offenders, host communities collaboration, low level of application of technology and negative mindsets of Nigerians to Nigeria.
“For these crimes to be fought decisively, potent punitive measure like capital punishment, need to be legally provided for,” he said.
The Minister of State however noted that the situation can be addressed proactively through establishment of Mines Police, Special Court or Tribunals to try offenders , adequate funding for the Ministry and positive mindsets of Nigerians to Nigeria.
“The main Crux of the matter is for us to be Nigerian by seeing ourselves as Nigerians in all circumstances. Doing this, will make us see mineral resources in our communities as collective wealth of all Nigerians that must not be illegally explored by anybody within or from outside the country,” he stressed.
Also, a member of the Committee, Senator Francis Fadaunsi (PDP Osun East), accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of enabling smuggling through lopsided and exclusive policy on FOREX.
He regretted that the CBN’s forex policy makes the facility scarce in the formal market thereby forcing forex seekers to patronize the parallel market, thus operating off grid.
The former Customs Boss maintained that “Gold Smuggling and Illegal Mining are carried out by political elites and not just the poor masses at the illegal mining sites.
“Categories of Nigerians at the top from Political office holders, politicians , traditional rulers , top security officers etc, are involved in gold smuggling and illegal mining in one way or the other. Poor ones did it on behalf of the big ones,” he said.
In his remarks , the Chairman of the Committee and former Nasarawa State governor, Senator Tanko Al- Makura ( APC Nasarawa South), called for thorough investigation into the menace.
He stressed that relevant government agencies will be summoned for a thorough investigative hearing.
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)
Source: News Express
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