Nigeria Suspends All Mining Activities in Zamfara State
Last Sunday, Nigeria announced a suspension of all mining activities in the northwestern state of Zamfara. This announcement came shortly after Nigeria’s Chief of Police issued a statement supporting intelligence reports that “clearly established a strong and glaring nexus between the activities of armed bandits and illicit miners.”
The government issued three directives in line with the suspension:
Mining activities in Zamfara and other affected States are hereby suspended with immediate effect.
Consequently, any mining operator who engages in mining activities in the affected locations henceforth will have his licence revoked.
All foreigners operating in the mining fields should close and leave within 48 hours.
This decision is one of many measures being taken to restore peace and stability in the region. In recent weeks, military, police, and state security forces have all been deployed in response to a spate of killings and kidnappings at the hands of criminal gangs.
Zamfara state has been gravely affected by the recent uptick in violence. According to some estimates, hundreds of people were killed or kidnapped by bandits in the last year. Thousands more have been forced to flee their homes — Nigerians and foreigners alike.
Mining activity is not the only cause of violence in the region. Some attribute the violence to state failure, since the government’s presence in Zamfara state is limited. The number of troops and security forces is “certainly, not enough to really make the difference in that area,” says security consultant Sadiq Garba Shehu.
Production in Nigeria’s Mining and Quarrying sector grew by 22 percent in 2018, and some fear that this suspension could be harmful to local economies. However, the Inspector General of the Police, Mohammed Adamu, said that all mining sites would be taken over by a special task force made up by relevant security agencies.
Alhaji Abubakar Bwari, Nigeria’s Minister of State, Mines and Steel development, described the suspension as a “necessary step towards curbing banditry in the state,” adding that “even legitimate mining investors have stopped activities for the past two years due to the banditry.” Bwari is confident that “it will not be long for the security agencies to flush out bandits.”