Eighteen Chinese are currently facing prosecution while 36 Nigerians have also been arrested for engaging in illegal mining, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, said on Wednesday.
Fayemi said one Dan China from Bauchi State, the architect of the illegal mining in Plateau State has been arrested, as he clarified that the illegal mining was more in gold and sapphire.
Briefing State House Correspondents at the end the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Fayemi said the case of illegal miners is being handled by the Police.
Fayemi, who briefed alongside his colleagues; ministers of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Finance, Kemi Adeosun; and Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed added that the government has created a new settlement for the artisans in the illegal business.
He said, “About 36 were arrested and we have the mines police there, they are being prosecuted, I believe the police is handling that. Eighteen of the Chinese are being prosecuted.”
Adeosun on her part said Council approved N2.338 billion for the purchase of 50 operational vehicles for anti-smuggling task force as well as 82 units of two bedroom residences for Custom officers living in Abuja.
She explained that the approvals were given based on two memos she presented on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
She disclosed that N1.2 billion was approved for acquiring bedroom units at Lifecamp in Abuja for NCS and N1.128 billion for 50 operational vehicles for Anti-smuggling Task Force.
Meanwhile, Fayemi and Fashola told the journalists that they took turns to brief the FEC on the implementation of policy and programme approvals they secured from the cabinet since they assumed office over two years ago.
Fashola, disclosed that the Ministry got 66 approvals covering Katsina windmill, Afam and Mambilla power plants, Zik Mausoleum, pilot housing projects in 33 states, etc.
Fashola insisted that these projects have created 69,736 jobs while revitalising the mining sector, which had before now recorded nine consecutive quarterly losses.
On his part, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Fayemi, said the FEC approved ten policy and programme initiatives, including the Mining Regulatory Commission and the aero-magnetic survey of mineral deposits in Nigeria, which was commissioned as far back as 2006 but not delivered due to non-funding.
He disclosed that State governments like Ogun, Rivers, Kogi and others now collect their due shares of solid mineral resources earnings at monthly Federation Account Allocations Committee (FAAC), although not much had been given out to this.
Fayemi further briefed FEC on the handing over of 80 percent ownership of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) in Akwa Ibom State to the Russian firm, UC Russal with a mandate to start reactivating the idling edifice within the next six months.