PLATEAU State is reputed for mining
activities. Little wonder Jos, its capital
city, is widely called Tin City due to the
abundance of tin and years of tin mining
activities in the area. Our correspondent
observed that most mining activities in the
state are done illegally as most miners are
not registered.
In places like Jos South, Bassa, Riyom
and BarkinLadi Local Government council
of the state where illegal mining activities
are being carried out, scores of children are
seen engaged in carrying the excavated
minerals from one location to another for
a token.
Our correspondent also gathered that
some of these children drop out of schools
because of the activities of illegal mining.
Similarly, in most of the illegal mining
sites visited in the state, there are close to
a thousand youths, single ladies, aside
married women who are engaged in illegal
mining activities. Other businesses also
thrive around the mining sites such as
selling of local beer known as “burukutu,”
and commercial sex work.
It could be recalled that six persons were
recently killed when illegal miners clashed
in Gyoro village of Gyel district in Jos South
Local Government area of the State. The
clash our correspondent gathered occurred
when two miners from Gyel in Jos South
LGA and Miango in Bassa LGA started
arguing over the ownership of a mining
well which snowballed into a bloody clash.
A miner who gave his name as James had
then told newsmen that six persons were
killed as people fled the scene of the clash
for safety. He said: “I escaped being killed
by a group of youths who were running
after people in the mining camp”.
On assumption of office, Governor Simon
Lalong said that his administration had
developed strategies to boost Internally
Generated Revenue (IGR) via agriculture,
mining and other investment opportunities
in the state. He said that the state government
was determined to utilise the abundant
natural resources in the state to overcome its
sole reliance on funds from the Federation
Account.
Speaking to newsmen in Jos recently,
the governor who frowned at activities of
illegal miners said that his administration
would take advantage of the opportunities
presented by the availability of mineral
deposits in the state to create jobs for the
youth. He maintained that virtually every
part of the state had mineral deposits, adding
that the state would partner with the federal
government to get mining licences for
interested investors.
Lalong said “We lost so much in mining
because we left it to illegal miners. This is
the time to look inward. In those days when
people were talking about groundnuts and
cocoa, we were hitting our chest and talking
about mining. That was why the name Jos
became popular. When the prices of oil
started falling we said we must go back to
mining and agriculture. Virtually every part
of Plateau state is rich”, he said.
Recently the state government said that
illegal mining was posing a massive threat
to food security in state. Also the state
government recently said that illegal mining
is posing a massive threat to food security in
state. Commissioner for Environment and
Solid Minerals, Abdullahi Abbas, said this in
Jos, after a meeting with traditional heads in
the state. Our correspondent gathered that
the meeting was focused on the menace of
illegal mining. He said “most lands have been
converted to mining fields by illegal miners
and if left unchecked, in the next 10 years,
people will have no lands to grow crops.
“This act is very worrisome. It has lots of
ills associated with it but the threat to food
security is one we cannot play with. In the
next 10 years, there will be no land to grow
crops and we may have to resort to going
to other states to lease lands to grow our
crops”. The commissioner also said that other
consequences included an increase in the
number of school dropouts and increase in
the consumption of illicit drinks and drugs in
a bid to mobilise strength for the act of mining.
He also added that loss of revenue to the
state government was also a consequence
as the miners were unlicensed. The
commissioner also said that his meeting with
the traditional heads was to sensitise them on
the ills of their youths engaging in the act of
illegal mining and to brainstorm with them
on the way forward.
Similarly, the state government have
ordered members of the Nigeria Security and
Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to ensure that
no miner is found around the Lamingo Dam
area following the drowning of an illegal
miner last Monday night.
State Commissioner for Water Resources
and Energy, Eng. Jafaru Wuyep, said one
person had drawn at the dam last Monday
night when he tried to swim across to avoid
arrest by security agents. Wuyep said the
Ministry was working with security agents
to provide 24 hour surveillance on the area
adding that “we are also working with the
Federal government to see to it that the place
is fenced. The community is not happy about
it but we are presently talking with them
to see how we can resolve it by providing
alternative sources of water for them.”
He urged the public not to panic as water
from the dam which is supplied to Jos
metropolis is highly treated by the water
board and safe for consumption.
On his part, the Acting General Manager
for Water Board, Lambert Gonzuk explained
that the activities of illegal miners including
farmers’ impacts negatively on the quality
of the water and the structures of the dam
adding that all activities around the dam
stand prohibited.
The NSCDC said the department of Mineral
resources and the Critical Infrastructure will
work with the State government to secure
the area. Moses Yakubu who is in charge of
Disaster Management said; “several times
we have come to chase them and some were
arrested but because they are recalcitrant they
still return, however, we are ready for them.”
It could be recalled that security agents in
the state and the state government recently
met with community and political leaders
in Bassa and Jos south Local Government
areas of the State to resolve lingering issues
over last week’s clash by illegal miners that
resulted in the death of six persons.
The meeting which took place at the
Operation Safe Haven headquarters in Jos
had in attendance, the OPSH Commander,
Major General Rogers Nicholas; the State
Commissioner of Police, Peter Ogunyanwo;
the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet and
Special Services Cornelius Shiolbial, as well
as the management committee chairmen
of the affected local governments, the
community leaders and miners.
General Nicholas said the clash was
purely a miners’ affair and had nothing to
do with ethnic or religious affiliation but
said following the crisis, some people had
taken sides along the ethnic lines which
led to another attack on Kwashi village
adding that; “the Vicampro company was
also vandalised by some hoodlums. We
have made arrests and weapons have been
confiscated. The mining activity in the area
under contention has been suspended and
security agents have been stationed in the
area.”
The chairmen of Jos South Augustin
Pwakim Choji said a lot of ethnic groups
have lived in the mining area and the
youths have worked peacefully together
in the past. His counterpart from Bassa,
Sarah Bali who was represented by her
secretary, Joseph Adi Agun said the crisis
was a personal misunderstanding between
two people that erupted to claim lives and
properties.
An illegal miner who gave his name as
Dalyop who spoke to our correspondent
said “People call our business illegal and
sometimes security operatives chase us
but we believe it is better than stealing or
engaging in other vices. We are exploring
the blessing of God on our land to our own
benefit.”
Meanwhile recently, the Nigeria Security
and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDS) in the
state arrested four persons for carrying
out illegal mining activities around
the Lamingo Dam, in Jos North Local
Government area of the state. The state’s
NSCDC public relations officer Naomi
Cishak told journalists that the corps also
arrested three other illegal miners around
Mista Ali Bassa Local Government area of
the state recently, bringing the number of
those arrested to seven,
Chishak warned residents to desist from
mining around the Lamingo Dam which
provides water for domestic and industrial
use insisting that it was detrimental to the
health of all residents of Jos City. She assured
that that the NSCDC would intensify efforts
at arresting such illegal miners. Meanwhile
the state government has commenced
the conversion of some mining ponds in
the state to water reservoirs for irrigation
farming. The Commissioner for Water
Resources and Energy, Mr David Wuyep,
stated this in an interview with newsmen
in Jos.

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