The Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, says state governments lack constitutional powers to close down any mining company operating with valid mineral title.
Mr Francis Wuyep, Director, Mines Inspectorate, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, stated this on Saturday in a telephone interview.
He cited relevant sections of the constitution and the Mineral Act 2007, to buttress that states had no jurisdiction over mining operations.
Wuyep was reacting to the alleged closure of Greenfield Metals Ltd, a mining company operating in Ishiagu, Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi, and other mining companies by Ebonyi government.
According to him, Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, put mining in the exclusive legislative list, hence only the Federal Government has the right over mining activities in the country.
He said that no state government has the mandate, power or authority to stop mining company with approved mining licence from the Ministry from operating in any part of the country.
Wuyep said that mining companies were required by extant laws to pay revenues to the Federal Government, stressing that solid minerals producing states receive 13 per cent derivation from accruals from solid minerals.
“Mining is in the exclusive legislative list of the constitution, hence only the Federal Government has the right, power and authority to regularly supervise and collect revenues from the sector.
“Closure of licensed mining companies under any guise by state governments is illegal and unconstitutional.
“Royalties from mining companies are paid into the Federation Account and states collect their 13 per cent derivation in line with the constitution.
“It will amount to double taxation and breach of the constitution to compel mining companies to pay any form of tax by state governments, ” Wuyep said.
He noted that Greenfield Metals Ltd is a registered and licensed mining company with valid mineral title.
Wuyep stressed that nobody has the right to close down mining operations except the Mines Inspectorate Department of the Ministry.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Greenfield Metals Ltd, Chief Henry Ahanotu, at a media briefing on Saturday in Abakaliki, decried the closure of the mining site.
He alleged that the action was on the orders of the state government over alleged failure of the company to pay mineral revenue to the state government.
He said that the Senior Special Assistant to Gov. Dave Umahi on Internal Security, Dr Kenneth Ugbala, on Wednesday, Feb. 7, led a combined team of Police and other security agencies to the site to close down the company.
Ahanotu appealed for urgent intervention of the Federal Government, adding that the closure was undue interference and harassment of licensed miners.
“We have lost millions of naira in revenue due to the closure of our company.
“We are not illegal miners. We are licensed and fulfill our obligations to our host community, contribute to socio-economic development of the state through employment generation as well as pay necessary revenues to the Federal Government.’’