BY: Emmanuel Nlewedum
The people of Igboh Kingdom in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State have declared their support for the federal government in its campaign against illegal mining in the area and other parts of the state.
Onye-Ishi Agwuru of Igboh Kingdom, HM, Dr. Samuel Ndiwe Amaechi who spoke when officials of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development led a delegation on a sensitization meeting to his palace regretted that illegal mining activities has caused so much devastation to the environment and has put the roads in the area in a deplorable state.
Amaechi said that his council would partner with the government and other ministries to sensitize the artisans on the importance of acquiring mining licenses so as to operate legally and for the safety of the people.
While regretting that only few out of the numerous miners in the area were licensed, used the avenue to placed a ban on every illegal mining activity in the area.
Expressing concern that all those operating in the area were not engaged in any social cooperate responsibility activity for the host communities, Amaechi urged miners to always consult the community heads and identify areas of need and provide some support to host communities before commencing operation.
“Officials of the Ministry said we have only few licensed mining companies and individuals operating in this area, from today, let’s follow due process, every illegal miner should stop mining.
“The kingdom is happy with the ministry for coming to sensitize our people on mining activities and ensure the miners acquire licenses so that they can participate in lawful mining.
“We are partnering with you people, we are going to take a tour on all mining sites. Anytime the taskforce are going out, a representative from the council will go with you and the council must be a part of every community development agreement. It is not about the money but for the safety of the people”.
“Whatever is due the landlords and community should be given them. Ensure you create an impact to the community”, the monarch stated.
Earlier, the Federal Mines Officer in-charge of Rivers State, Mrs. Veronica Okpeku who led the delegation said they were in the kingdom to sensitize artisanal miners against illegal mining activities.
Okpeku who stated that they will embark on a guided tour on all mining sites in Etche, stressed that their move was also targeted to halt illegal and primitive mining in the area for the safety and preservation of the environment and other natural resources and also ensure sanity and proper assessment of all mining sites at the various communities in Rivers state.
She stressed that the ministry is poised to re-position the mining sector by ensuring that every mining company and individual in the state obtain a valid license for operation.
According to her, “Before you go into mining, you must consider factors like; Inspection of mining sites, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Community Development Agreement and Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation Programme as well as obtaining your license”, she said.
PHSpectator reports that traditional rulers and stakeholders in Igboh kingdom and representatives of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Rivers State Ministry of Environment, National Inland Waterways, Federal and State Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Presidential Taskforce on Illegal Mining in Nigeria were all present at the meeting.