By: Achiane Adams, CRS-MOI Officer reporting from Min. of Solid Minerals Development

Cross River State Ministry of Soild Minerals Development and the Nigerian Army have agreed to work together in curbing insecurity in the mining sector of the State.

This was made known when the Commissioner, Rt. Hon. George O'Ben-Etchi, paid a courtesy call on the  Commander, 13 Brigade Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Oluyemi Thomas Olatoye, at Akim Barracks, Calabar.

Rt. Hon. O'Ben-Etchi said the presence of illegal miners in the State is on the increase such that armed colonies have set up camps and are engaging in mining which are against international best practices.

"Even when authorised government personnel went to inspect a site after getting information that illegal mining activities was going on at a certain location in the Central Senatorial District of the State, they were dared to proceed with arms pointed at them. Of course they did not proceed and were chased out even by the Community because traded conscience.

These Communities are easily lured by petty gifts to grant consent to foreigners and before they know it, the foreigners start grabbing lands and in a lot of cases it leads to ethnic/tribal wars.
Also, both the Federal and State Governments are losing resources as these illegal activities thrive" he added.

He acknowledged that in the past, measures such as the sensitization of Communities not to grant Letters of Consent and the engagement of other security agencies have been used in ensuring peace and order at different locations but that synergizing with the Army will be a plus for the whole process.

The Commissioner further commended the Officers of the Nigerian Army and fallen heros, for their unwavering commitment to ensuring the peace and safety of Nigerians.

Responding, the Commander, 13 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. Oluyemi Thomas Olatoye, welcomed the Commissioner and his team and pledged the 13 Brigade's readiness to work with the Ministry to ensure illegal mining is not used as an avenue to fine-tune insecurity.

Brig.Gen. Olatoye emphasized that the unauthorized possession of arms anywhere in the world, is illegal and criminal. And as such the Army will do its best to ensure that those who are perceived to be treats are checked.

However, the Brigade Commander advised that the Ministry, put into writing its proposal to the Brigade for prompt attention, involve other security agencies in the fight against illegal mining activities, reorient the Communities on the dangers of granting consents and revalidate registered mining companies operating in the State.

Other issues discussed include; the control and regulations for blasting explosives and the upcoming Solid Minerals Stakeholders meeting.

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