As part of efforts toward sanitising the State’s resource climate, the government of the State of Osun has read the riot act to mineral resources exploiters and defaulters of environmental standards in the State to forthwith comply with the government’s regulations or face legal action.
Osun government bemoaned the flagrant abuse of its environment by illegal miners, especially the pollution of the Osun River, stating its readiness to launch a full blown war on those who have resisted guidance and refused to follow approved standards for mining in Osun.
In a statement released on Wednesday by the Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Funke Egbemode, the government also warned natives who are leasing out their farmlands to illegal miners to desist from such acts or face the law.
According to the government: “Osun is the proud host of one of Nigeria’s UNESCO World Heritage sites that is the Sacred Grove in Osogbo through which the sacred Osun river winds. The Oyetola administration has been committed to maintaining and promoting the state as a tourist destination, as one of its three pillars of economic growth and diversification. Central to this is eco-cultural tourism in the annual pilgrimage to the Sacred Grove a major milestone in Osun’s calendar. A second pillar of the Oyetola administration’s blueprint for Osun is agriculture and the third is mining. A symbiotic tripod for the the Osun Economic Agenda.
“The state Government’s mining blueprint has sought through a combination of enforcement and formalisation via registration and capacity development of artisanal miners, to mitigate the degradation caused by mining. The state’s policy of inviting responsible commercial mining can be seen in Segilola Resources Operating Limited, Nigeria’s 1st commercial gold mine owned by Thor Explorations, a Toronto Stock Exchange Listed company committed to ESG principles. Other mining companies have partnered with the state as the state tries to make Osun a designation for sustainable investment.
“While these achievements present the state’s proactive policies designed to change the mining landscape, the state continues to deal with the scourge of illicit and irresponsible mining that is causing the pollution of the Osun river.
“Governor Oyetola has since deployed its limited enforcement resources to curbing illegal and informal mining to arrest the despoilation of our land and pollution of our rivers. To date, the enforcement actions have led to the arrests of several individuals for illicit mining, seizures and site closures.
“In addition to the enforcement activities the state has commissioned studies on the level of pollution and how to remediate it and also sought assistance from the Federal Government as well as Development partners, including from the Ecological fund, to remediate the damage.
“Osun will continue its enforcement and its efforts to remediate. However, Osun’s scope for action is constrained by constitutional limits where Federal Government exercises exclusive jurisdiction over mining. The government therefore welcomes the international community as it lends it voice to the scourge of pollution on our most prized heritage. We hope that by coming to Osun and shining the spotlight on this problem they bring with them the support the state and the affected communities have been advocating for to remedy this. Osun looks forward to engaging with partners and further harp on the continuous support of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Solid Minerals Development in jointly addressing this problem in sustainable ways.
“Osun State Government is worried and deeply concerned about the flagrant abuse of its environment by illegal miners who are daily degrading and polluting the Osun River. In spite of efforts to curb the excesses of these fly-by-night business men, they have consistently resisted guidance and refused to follow approved standards for mining in Osun.
“It has therefore become imperative to serve them the last warning here and now. The state will no longer fold its hands while these miners ( both legal and illegal ) throw caution to the winds and ruin one of our heritage sites.
“Osun River is not just a geographical landmark. It is one of the few accredited UNESCO sites in Nigeria. It is our heritage, one we will do everything to protect and preserve.
“Illegal Miners are therefore served a notice to shape in or ship out. If they cannot operate within the ambits of World Standards and observe safety protocols, they may have to take their business elsewhere.
“Osun State under the leadership of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola will hold nothing back in fighting these agents of pollution and degradation masquerading as business men. There will be arrests and prosecution in the coming days and there will be no sacred cows. Nobody however highly placed will be allowed to put the future of our water bodies in jeopardy.
“Let us also use this opportunity to warn those who are leasing out their farmlands to illegal miners to desist or face the law.
“Much as you the Governor Oyetola-led administration is determined to diversify Osun economy, it is not willing to trade the gains it had made over the years in tourism and environmental protection for illicit mining by short-sighted actors in the solid mineral sector.
“From here on, it’s going to be an all-out war against illegal miners. The state will rev up its policing and enforcement activities of the mining sites. NESREA and MIREMCO have been contacted and we will be working with the Joint Task Force to ensure compliance with global best standards in mining and to apprehend those found cutting corners.
“We enjoin all the good people of Osun to report all suspicious or degrading mining activities by calling or leaving messages on the following numbers 0816 555 4266 and 0815 803 0579
“It is our joint responsibility to protect our heritage and safeguard our environment. Osun will not allow selfless miners endanger our State, especially Osun River”, the statement read.