By Ogechi Okorie
A Chinese, Gang Deng, 29, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged illegal mining in Ilorin, the latest in a long line of arrests of Chinese in a racket that smuggles solid minerals out of Nigeria.
“A truck load of minerals, suspected to be lepidolite, was recovered from him. The suspect will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded,” Uwajuaren said in a statement.
EFCC Ilorin Zonal Command had on 30 August arrested another 13 suspected illegal miners operating in Kakafu village in Patigi Council in Kwara for non-payment of royalties to the federal government.
The graft buster said they were nabbed in a joint operation with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development following intelligence report, according to The PUNCH.
Deng in a long line of arrested Chinese
Premium Times reports that Deng is the latest among Chinese nationals arrested for illegal mining in different parts of Nigeria over the years.
The Osun government announced in 2020 the arrest of 27 illegal miners, 17 of whom were said to be Chinese, and 10 locals, including a local traditional ruler (Baale).
Mines and Steel Minister of State Uche Ogah identified in September 2021 the complicity of security officers as part of the challenges facing Abuja in the fight against illegal mining.
He listed other challenges to include adequate manpower and low level technology.
Ogah spoke at a public hearing held by the Senate Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy Committee investigating the loss of $9 billion annually to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.
The hearing was organised to get the input of Ministries, Departments, ang Agencies (MDAs) into the following bills:
Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation Establishment Bill 2021Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Establishment Bill 2021Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021Explosive Act 1964 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021