Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi, chairman, Zamfara State Anti-illegal Mining Committee, has admitted that the ban on illegal gold mining which has affected 100,000 youths, may worsen insecurity in the state.
The state governor, Bello Matawalle, recently appointed Shinkafi to chair the committee to check activities of illegal miners in the state.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2019, banned illegal mining of gold in Zamfara, rendering thousands of youths who engaged in the activity jobless.
However, Shinkafi, who appeared on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, monitored by Newsbreak on Thursday, noted that despite the ban by the President, illegal gold mining is still ongoing in the state.
When asked about the impact of Buhari’s order on youth unemployment in the state and on already overwhelming security situation in the state, he said:
“The ban of the artisan miners from the sites, the federal government assured them of employment and you know when you give employments to our youths, it secures society and you have to keep your word. And also it improves business activities in the mining community site.
“So since this ban has been enforced, about 100,000 artisan miners were thrown out of employment. Then it is also escalating the insecurity of Zamfara State because an idle workshop is the devil workshop(sic). When these people are thrown out of employment, automatically, it is an invitation to insecurity, an invitation to poverty and all sorts of social vices”, he said.
He said the 100,000 youths affected by the ban will not be allowed to return to the mining sites, as long as the ban pronounced by the President stands.
“How can? They cannot go back to work because the issue of mining is on the exclusive list of the Nigerian constitution. And it is directly under the supervision of the Federal Government. If the government has imposed a ban, then the state government has no right whatsoever to lift the ban.
“And the ban remains in force, pending when the federal government will lift the ban. We as the committee set up by the state government is to complement and to support the enforcement of the ban on mining activities”, Shinkafi stated.
He also disclosed that part of the mandate of the committee is find out if there is any connection between illegal mining activities and banditry in the state.
He further echoed the assertion of Matawalle, that some politicians in the state are fueling insecurity.
“There are allegations that some politicians in the state are linked with illegal mining and banditry. Some top politicians in the past government are directly or indirectly involved in illegal mining and aiding and abetting armed banditry in Zamfara State. It is on record.
“The vice state chairman of APC was arrested for allegation of aiding and abetting banditry. He was arrested by army, DSS, police. It is now left to the security agencies to say ‘he is not involved in banditry’,” he said.