President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said foreigners and locals involved in the act of illegal mining of solid minerals in the country are criminals who undermine Nigeria’s sovereignty.
Lawan stated this yesterday in his remarks after the Senate considered a report of the Roundtable Discussion on the Need for Continuous Implementation of Policy Reforms for the Diversification of the Nigerian Economy through the Solid Minerals Sector.
The report was put together by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, chaired by Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura (APC, Nasarawa).
Lawan said, “It is our duty to have legislation either in form of amendment or new legislations to ensure that the solid minerals sector is supported.
“Where we need policy, we suggest to the Executive policy areas that they should focus on in addition to what they are already doing, and of course, guidelines would be necessary on how this sector is operated.
“I want to agree also with Senator Rochas Okorocha, that we have people who come in from outside the country, who go into our mining sites and exploit our minerals without any due process.
“I think we should declare such people criminals, whether they are Chinese or anybody else, because this is going against our sovereignty.
“Nobody should come into our country, go to our sites, exploit our minerals and go away with them.
“We want to attract foreign direct investments, but we should have proper processing of every concern that wants to participate in this sector. What is happening is criminal and everywhere.
“It happens in the North Central part of Nigeria where we have a lot of solid minerals, probably in Zamfara, too. “I think it is for us in government to ensure that this is stopped, that we attract people and process their requests.“I want to agree with the committee that we should have ease of doing business in the solid minerals sector, even though we have a general law which the Vice President’s office is handling, but it is time we look at specifically, the area of solid minerals to see how we can make it much easier for investors to participate,” Lawan said.
The Senate while adopting the recommendations of the Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, urged the federal government to collaborate with states, local governments and the organised private sector to invest in infrastructural development that will provide private investments in all areas of the sector.