George Kajo, Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has directed the suspension of all illegal mining activities taking place in some parts of the state with immediate effect.
He announced government decision at the Benue Peoples House Makurdi on Thursday while playing host in emergency security interface with stakeholders drawn from Kwande local government area over illegal mining of gold by some Chinese miners.
Governor Ortom noted that illegal mining poses security and environmental threats not just to Kwande local government area but the entire state if allow to fester.
He therefore revoked all rights granted to mining racketeers by some communities within Benue State territory, warning that any traditional or community leader caught indulging in or abating illegal mining activities will be prosecuted.
The Governor explained that although mining is in the exclusive list and controlled by the Federal Government, the lands where mining would be done were held by the Governor in trust for the people of state, emphasising that due process must be followed in carrying out mining.
Governor Ortom stated that prospective licensed miners will be adequately profiled before they will be allowed to carry out any activity in the state to check the infiltration of criminal elements.
He commended the Kwande local government Council Chairman, Hon. Orjiir Gbande for being alert and drawing his attention to the security and environmental threats posed by the illegal mining activities in Turan and Kyurav axis of the local government.
“Let me caution traditional rulers from the area to refrain from unlawfully ceding of land to prospective miners. It is only the State Government has the rights to approve lands for use by anyone for any purpose”.
He further urged the elites to get involved and sensitize their communities on the impending dangers of allowing unauthorized persons access to their communities for the purpose of mining.
The senator representing Benue North East Senatorial district, Gabriel Suswam who also attended the meeting, tasked Benue people on the unity of purpose to overcome the security challenges confronting the state.
He appealed to traditional rulers, especially those from Kwande local government area to be security conscious so as not to harbour criminal elements who may infiltrate their communities to exploit the available mineral resources and challenged the elites to educate the locals on the danger of harbouring strangers in the community.
Earlier, the Council Chairman of Kwande local government, Mr Orjiir Gbande, pledged to ensure that his people heed to the Governor’s warning concerning the issue of illegal mining.
Also speaking, the Tor Kwande, His Royal Highness, Ambrose Iortyer and the Ter Kwande, His Royal Highness, Timothy Ahile as well as Justice Terna Puusu (Rtd) in separate remarks appreciated Governor Ortom for his proactive approach to nip in the bud any security breach.
They emphasised the need for traditional rulers to adhere to discipline and the right code of conduct in their respective domains and to ensure close contact with their subjects at all times to avoid security breaches.