The Federal Government is to establish regional courts to try and prosecute illegal miners in the country.
Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, Minister of State, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development said this on Thursday in Obosi when he paid a visit to Igwe Chidubem Iweka, the 3rd of Obosi.
“It will interest you to know that we are on the verge of working on a regional court against illegal mining in the country.
“Once this court is established,if you are caught engaging in illegal mining, there will be no fine, anybody that is caught will be sent to prison.
“And if you go to prison for two years, your life is already messed up and you can never be reasonable in the society again,” the minister said.
He noted that the country is blessed with over 25 mineral deposits that could help change its fortune beyond where it is today.
He added that it was, however, unfortunate that illegal mining activities and corruption were adversely affecting the country’s economy.
He stressed that while the Federal Government was not stopping anyone from going into mining activities, due process should be followed and mining licences obtained from relevant authorities.
The minister added that royalty should also be paid to the Federal Government to enable it meet its responsibility of providing infrastructure across the federation.
“We are saying that let there be harmony within the enter system, so that whatever that is harvested or exploited from the land will be used to develop the country in the interest of all.
“People should not be stealing and at the end of the day, they leave the land in a position that it will no longer be useful to even the community,” the minister said.
He said the Federal Government had approved a 13 per cent from minerals generated from states, like in the oil and gas sector.
The minister, however, appealed to the Igwe and other traditional rulers to help talk to their subjects on the need to stop illegal mining which he said was causing erosion and environmental degradation in some states of the federation.
“We believe that Igwes has the capacity to stop anyone from excavating, exploiting, and exploring where he does not have a permit from the Federal Government to do so
We want to see how we can work together so that our mineral resources are harnessed in one accord and revenues from it deposited in the federation allocation account,” he said.
The minister added that this was critical to ensure that states got their 13 per cent derivation.
He stressed that traditional rulers in the country should help the Federal Government advise youths, women, and men not to be involved in illegal mining.
The Igwe of Obosi thanked the minister for the visit and expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for approving the 13 per cent derivation for states with mineral deposits.
NAN reports that the minister earlier visited the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe.