The Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) has urged governors of solid minerals producing states to stop interfering with licensed mining operations in their states. MAN, an umbrella body of all licensed and registered miners in Nigeria made the call through their National President, Mr Sani Shehu on Wednesday while answering questions from journalists.
Sani said only the Federal Government had statutory powers to sanction erring, illegal or unlicensed mining operations through the Federal Ministry of Mine and Steels Development. He cited relevant sections of the constitution and the Mineral Act 2007, to buttress the fact that states had no jurisdiction over mining operations. Sani was reacting to the alleged closure of mining companies operating in Ebonyi, including Greenfield Metals Ltd., a mining company operating in Ishiagu, Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi on the orders of the state government.
According to him, Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution put mining in the exclusive legislative list of the Nigeria constitution. “Mining sector is under the exclusive list of the Nigerian Constitution and what this means is that only the Federal Government can grant mining licenses, can collect revenue, can monitor and regulate mining operations. “Where the mineral and mining acts are violated, they can take action and the actions have been stipulated in the act and exercised on behalf of Federal Government by the Federal Ministry of Mine and Steels Development. “They can take offenders to court, in fact Federal Government has total control and right over mining activities in the country,” Sani said. He said no state government had the mandate, power or authority to stop mining company with approved mining license from the ministry from operating in any part of the country. He said under Minerals and Mining Act, mines offices in states exercise powers on behalf of the Federal Government and invested with powers to seal mining companies without operational license.
He said mining companies were required by mining and mineral act to pay revenues to the Federal Government, stressing that solid minerals producing states receive 13 per cent derivation from accruals from solid minerals. He said clampdown on mining operations, arrest and detention of workers including expatriates in these companies would affect the government’s economic diversification strategies. He said the closure would also scare investors and foreign partners in the mining sectors.
The president, who decried alleged collection of mining revenues, disruption of mining activities and closure of mining sites by some state governments called for Federal Government’s sanction against such state governments. He said the association would adopt all legitimate measures to protect the interest of their members and stop the harassment, intimidation and closure of their mining operations by state governments. “We will continue to appeal to the sensibility of state governors who are chief security officers of their states to respect and uphold the constitution which they took oath to protect and to preserve.
“We urge the state governments to promote peaceful mining operations in their respective states to boost revenue generation,” he said.