Minister of Solid Minerals, Dele Alake, has confirmed that following his comment on how powerful Nigerians are funding banditry associated with illegal minings in the country, he has been receiving life threatening messages.
Alake disclosed this on Monday during an on-the-spot assessment of the effect of the explosion that rocked the ancient city of Ibadan, killing five people while properties worth billions of naira were destroyed.
According to the Minister, the threats trailed his comment at the National Assembly on the involvement of powerful and highly-placed Nigerians in illegal minings.
He said, “I said it during my Ministry’s budget defence at the National Assembly that powerful Nigerians are behind the banditry associated with illegal minings in the country.
“I said it openly. However, since I made the disclosure, I have been receiving threats but we are undaunted because it has to be said.
“In any case, I was not saying anything new. Most people knew it. Most people have been saying it. I only gave it an official stamp based on the intelligence report.
“There is a lot of connivance among the strata of the society, both the high, medium and low. It is not an exclusive preserve of just the high up.
In order to curb the trend, the Minister disclosed that the government is employing the kinetic and non-kinetic strategies and tactics.
He also added that the Federal government is working in concert with all the critical stakeholders at the state, local government and host communities in order to bring to an end the activities of the illegal miners.
The involvement of the host communities, according to him, “became imperative because at the end of the day, whatever security strategy that we come up with, we have to involve the host communities, the people on the ground who have efficient knowledge of the local terrain, we cannot do without them.
“One of the things that happen now even in the forest that is unknown to many people is that the bandits who are being sponsored by the highly placed Nigerians have access to funding and a heavy arsenal.
“They even laid mines on the ground against our ground forces that are moving in the forest to dislodge. That is why we require the presence, involvement and engagement of the military,” he added.
Speaking on the Ibadan explosion, the Minister who condemned the stockpiling of explosives in a residential area, said it is too early to make a categorical statement while the findings are still on.
“It will be presumptuous and precipitous for the Federal government to make any solid pronouncement or categorical statement on this incident until we have examined all the forensic analysis reports, the investigations from the various security agencies and the Mines Inspectorate division of the Ministry of Solid Minerals.”
He, however, assured that justice would be served on whoever found culpable irrespective of how highly placed in the society.