By Abiola Olawale
President Muhammadu Buhari has placed a ban on the mining of Gold and other precious metals in Zamfara State, declaring the state a no-fly-zone, in response to recent security challenges erupting from the state.
National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), disclosed this to state house correspondents at the end of the National Security Council (NSC) meeting, held with the military Chiefs in attendance and presided over by the President.
The decision is part of fresh measures to restore peace to the state bedevilled by banditry.
According to reports, hundreds of people have been killed as a result years-long bandits’ attacks and millions of naira has been paid to the bandits who kidnap for huge ransom.
The bandits had in their latest mass abduction carted away 317 schoolgirls from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara state last Friday. 279 of the girls regained their freedom, early Tuesday, while 38 still remain unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, there have been suspicions that the criminality in Zamfara was a fallout of the artisanal mining of gold and lead in the northwest state.
Zamfara is home to large gold deposits, with its legal mining industry operating alongside illegal operations by locals, something that has continued to fuel violence in communities.
Monguno announced that Buhari approved the ban on all mining activities in the state based on the recommendations of the NSC.
He also stated that the Federal Government will not allow any criminal to cause chaos in the country, adding that the new order was to ensure that the security agencies reclaim the areas controlled by the bandits.
In his words: “The President has approved, based on our recommendations, the imposition and enforcement of a ban on all mining activities in Zamfara with immediate effect until further notice. He has directed the Minister of Defence and the National Security Adviser to deploy massive military and intelligence assets to restore normalcy to that part of the country.
“He has also approved that Zamfara State should be declared ‘a no fly zone’ with immediate effect. We are not going to be blackmailed. The government has the responsibility to assert its will. Citizens can reside wherever they want to reside. Anybody who is a criminal should be brought to book. The president has also warned against ethnic profiling. We have enough of chaos. Any individual that thinks he can cause disunity should have a rethink.” Monguno said.