The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday revealed how illegal mining activities aggravated insecurity in Zamfara before its April 7 prohibition order and launch of special operations to stop bandits in the state.
The minister, who featured at a Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, Programme, “Good Morning Nigeria”, said banditry, kidnapping, killing and cattle rustling were largely sponsored by the illegal miners in the state.
According to him, the miners were fueling instability in the state to pave the way for their illegal activities.
“People begin to ask what is the nexus between instability in Zamfara, kidnapping and banditry and illegal mining.
“There is a lot. For instance, if you are doing illegal mining, abinitio, it is illegal. The more unsettled the area is the better for you.
“We find out that a lot of ammunition and money were being turned out to the bandits so as to make the area ungovernable.
“The higher the rate of the crisis the better for the illegal miners,” he said.
The minister said that the commencement of “Operation PUFF- ADDER”, a full-scale security offensive against the bandits, had yielded results in the past weeks.
“We have a harvest of criminals many of them arrested, their actions neutralized and cache of ammunition recovered.
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“On the April 14, they neutralized 11 kidnappers, recovered six AK47, 1200 rounds of ammunition.
“Shortly after that, they were able to arrest those who kidnapped the Channels Television correspondent,” he said.
Mohammed urged Nigerians to give deserving credit to the police and the military who, though overstretched, are doing their best to keep the country safe.
NAN recalls that the Federal Government had banned mining activities in Zamfara, ordering foreigners within mining sites to vacate the area within 48 hours.
The Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who disclosed this after a security meeting at the presidential villa on April 7, said the licences of individuals and companies that disobey the directive to stop the activities would be revoked.
He had assured sustained efforts to flush out, and permanently put an end to banditry and criminality in the state.