The Osun State Joint Task Force (JTF), recently inaugurated by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, has apprehended 27 illegal miners, comprising 17 Chinese nationals and 10 locals, including a local traditional chief (Baale).
They were arrested following a coordinated sting operation around Ilesa and Ife axis of the State.
Speaking on the development, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the State Governor, Abdullahi Binuyo, noted that no responsible government will fold its arms and watch its land being degraded by unauthorised persons.
He noted that aside the economic leakages, the illegal miners had also polluted the Osun River with poisonous metals, thereby making it unsafe for human consumption and irrigation.
Binuyo was, however, quick to add that apart from ensuring that those arrested are prosecuted, they will also be made to pay compensation.
“As part of the government’s economic reforms, solid mineral is a major sector we are looking to explore . For these reforms to work, it has become imperative on the reforms to stop illegal mining and step up enforcement activities. The result is what we are witnessing today.
“The people you see here neither have genuine mining licences nor are they registered with the government. What they claim to have is Exploration Licences, which does not allow them to mine, the way they are doing. So we will be prosecuting them and make them pay damages.
“Apart from flouting government’s Covid-19 Order, by refusing to stay at home, they have created environmental disaster for us, by poisoning our River which is a major public health concern for us,” Binuyo added.
Earlier, one of those arrested, May Zam, who was the only one that could speak passable English among the Chinese, disclosed that she was not aware they were engaged in illegal mining.
She said she worked for different companies, and she believed they shouid have mining licences, adding that the current company she works for, which she failed to name, has a Nigerian sponsor.