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(Strategic Report) Zamfara: Between oil, bloody gold, banditry and cover up?
In view of the currently soaring bloody crisis trailing solid minerals exploration in parts of the northern Nigeria and particularly gold mining in Zamfara, critical questions are beginning to seek for answers for posterity sake.
One; Knowing fully well that gold is costlier than crude oil in the international and local markets and can earn Nigerian even more foreign exchange, why has the Federal Government not considered gold in the exclusive list and effectively takeover the industry?
Two; Why is it that the attention of the Federal Government had been more pronounced in oil exploration than gold mining to the extent there are uncountable agencies of the government monitoring crude production but none for gold?
Three; Why is it that only in crude oil production that the Federal Government has Joint Ventures (JVs) and associated Production Share Contracts (PSCs) and nothing like either JVs or PSCs in gold mining?
Four; In the words of Chief Joe Okonkwo on his Facebook wall, “I tell you this, if not for the killings in Zamfara, nobody would have told us in the South that Nigeria has about 21.40 tonnes of gold deposits buried in her soil.
“If not for the killings in Zamfara, nobody would have told us in the South that Over 80% of this solid mineral is deposited in the North.
“If not for the killings in Zamfara, nobody would have told us in the South that the North have been secretly mining their gold and enjoying the proceeds alone without bringing a dime to the table of national unity.
Five; A report published on This Day Newspaper, has it that Nigeria loses about $9 billion (Nine billion dollars) to the illegal miners every year…
Six; Which Federal agency is taking deliveries, stocks and financial reports of extractive activities of the foreigners driving gold mines in Zamfara so as to recover correct earnings and taxes for the government?
Seven; Which Federal agency monitors the level of land reclamation that should follow after every mine is exhausted in Zamfara or are mines that are deep not reclaimed and treated for further human usage after mining?
Eight; Sometime last year, an international report revealed that Nigeria loses billions of dollars to illegal gold mining ring and the Federal Government never followed the report to find out why.
Nine; In an interview with Senator Kabiru Marafa representing Zamfara Central on the politics behind the mining activities in his state, he averred that “Mining in the state is just one aspect of the problems. I am not privy to the information available to government before it took the decision to drive away the miners. But the people are concerned that the rich miners exploring very expensive commodity in the remote areas of Zamfara State are unmolested by the bandits.
“They have never been killed or kidnapped but the criminals are going after the poor villagers, kidnapping and killing them. Our people want to know the magic behind that. They want to know what the miners are doing that stopped the bandits from attacking them. The people are saying there is a nexus between the miners and the bandits.
“It is therefore believed in certain quarters that there is a deliberate attempt by the people who are benefiting from the mining activities to scare the locals so that they won’t pay attention to what they are excavating from their soil. If the bandits are looking for money, the miners possess more money than the poor villagers.
Senator Marafa revealed that “Some of the miners sleep inside airconditioned rooms in the bush; yet, they are not kidnapped, attacked or killed.”
Ten; Why is it that in the current military campaign to clear Zamfara of bandits, no monition is made by the military on how the criminality is linked to gold mining even though the IGP Mohammed Adamu had just last week, clearly pointed out the fact in his preliminary briefing which powered him to announce ban on gold mining pending the end of the crisis?
In a statement issued by the Nigerian Military, the Army told Nigerians and the world in general that combatant soldiers deployed to Zamfara and other neighbourhood States have arrested 18 armed bandits and one of their sponsors, as military troops took over forests in the North West Zone.
The Army and Air force, in continuation with operations designed to mitigate banditry activities in Zamfara and other contiguous States, troops of Operation Sharan Daji invaded the hideout of the armed bandits, believed to have been terrorising inhabitants of Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and other states in the zone.
The soldiers engaged the bandits in a fierce battle at Kagara, Gando, Fankama, Fete and Dumburum forests where they inflicted serious casualty on the armed bandits and also set free about 40 victims of the kidnappers and cows.In a statement issued in Kaduna yesterday, the army pointed out that “troops under the Force Commander of Operation Sharan Daji, Major General Hakeem Oladapo Otiki, remain resolute to the mandate of tackling the menace of armed banditry and other forms of criminal activities in Zamfara.”
The statement, which was signed by the Acting Force Information Officer, Major Clement Abiade, stressed that the troops “are also determined to ensure that bandits do not establish sanctuaries in the contiguous states of Kebbi, Katsina and Sokoto.”
According to him, with aggressive fighting patrols, “the troops also conduct day and night patrols deep into the forest areas to deny the bandits freedom of action, while building the confidence of the local population.”
Abiade added: “The intensity and redoubled efforts in the conduct of these military activities is being complemented by EX HARBIN KUNAMA III which commenced on April 1, 2019. These operations have achieved tremendous successes leading to the recovery of weapons, ammunitions and rustled animals in various parts.”
“During the period, the Air Component of Operation Sharan Daji carried out several Air strikes around Kagara, Gando, Fankama, Fete and Dumburum forests. These Forests provide sanctuaries and hideouts where kidnapped victims are often hidden. Please note that air strikes are precision activities designed to avoid collateral damage.”
“The troops also had several encounters with bandits during the period in focus and neutralised 35 bandits. A total of 18 suspected bandits informants, rustlers, kidnappers and logistics suppliers were arrested including one Muhammed Iso, a notorious kidnapper who was intercepted in Niger Republic through collaboration with the security forces in the country.”
“The bandit hails from Naagwalam in Katsina State and confessed to being a member of a five-man syndicate responsible for kidnapping and highway robbery in Batsari and Jibiya axis. It is instructive to state that the suspects arrested have been handed over to the Nigerian Police and other agencies for further investigation and possible prosecution.”
The Nigerian Army further averred that “It is significant to mention that subsequent operations in the forests led to the rescue of 40 abductees consisting of men, women and children from communities in Zamfara State.
Troops of Operation Sharan Daji also recovered four AK47 rifles, two locally made pump action rifles, 17 rounds of 7.62mm (special) ammunitions and 20 cartridges. Additionally, 10 motorcycles, 94 rustled animals, assorted charms and two handsets were recovered during the period under review.”
Throughout the statement, no mention was made on gold mining whether illegal or official which has been clearly linked to the killings and banditry in the zone and Zamfara in particular by the Police hierarchy. Why?