Edo community laments security challenges over illegal mining
Four nabbed for illegal mining
These are not the best of times for residents of Dangbala community in Akoko-Edo Local Council of Edo State, following alleged influx of illegal miners in their neighbourhood.
Dangbala, a rural community in Akoko-Edo Local Council, boasts of natural resources, which had recently come under siege following activities of illegal miners.
The residents and community leaders are worried about the attendant risk to life and property as well as revenue loss to government, which their illegal operations pose.
In the wake of the illegal activities, Edo State Government closed the site for sanity to reign, while four people were arrested in connection with the illicit business.
The suspects were allegedly detained by the state police command in Benin. According to eyewitnesses, the suspects were apprehended by local vigilantes operating in the community, who in turn handed them over to the police for prosecution.
But members of the community said they are living in fear over alleged involvement of some community elders in the illegal activities. Some residents, who spoke to The Guardian in confidence, said the peaceful coexistence in Dangbala community is under threat as the detained suspects allegedly attacked and injured one, Mr. Peter Adelabu Kokumo, at Oketegbe mining site with support of some community elders.
Consequently, the community is demanding for prosecution of those arrested in connection with illegal mining in the community. Spokesperson for the community, Mr. Collins Nicholas, who addressed newsmen on the activities of the illegal miners in the community, said those behind the illegal mining in the community had also resorted to frivolous petition writing against those opposed to their criminal activities to mislead the public and called on the police authority to unmask them.
According to him, “presently, illegal mining still thrives in my community day and night. Those benefitting boasted that they are untouchable.
“Even when local security (vigilante) came, they prevented them from gaining access to the site. Secondly, they are using the name of our traditional head to write a petition against those opposed to them in Dangbala.
“This is a traditional ruler that is bedridden and can’t even talk nor take decisions. On November 10, 2021, we were invited to the state CID on allegation of threat to life and breach of peace, but to our dismay the said petitioners couldn’t show up. We are demanding that the petitioners should be produced.
“Even when the police visited the community, they discovered that our traditional head was bedridden. It was at that point they now asked us to go and settle. That was when they brought hundreds of illegal miners that invaded our community.
“Those faceless petition writers are the ones destroying Dangbala because as I speak, there are guns and dangerous weapons in the community and our people are no longer safe.
“We are calling on all well-meaning Akoko-Edo people world over to speak out against this invasion and the wanton stealing of our God’s given resources. Those already arrested should be prosecuted because we want peace and development.”
Also, residents under the platform of concerned residents of Dangbala community in a statement signed by the convener, Godwin Amusa and secretary, Agbaje Lawani, expressed worry about the latest development, stressing that if it is not urgently handled, it could throw the once peaceful community into something unpleasant.
They said: “The once peaceful community has been turned into something we fear may snowball into what we fear may become a problem to the community and the state as a whole.
“These people move in with their equipment at ungodly hours and carry on with their activities with impunity. With the way they go about this business, one is forced to believe that they have outside forces backing them.
“As I speak with you, the community leadership is divided on the matter. While some pretend not to know what is happening, others who are speaking against it are being shut down. This is the reason why few of us came together and decided to come out publicly to call for urgent action to be taken by the authorities to stop this madness that may become a security threat if not handled urgently.”
But the Zonal Mining Officer (ZMO) in charge of the area, AbdulKadiri Adamu, claimed he had no knowledge of the development.
“Edo State Government has placed an embargo on mining activities in the state and I am not aware that they are back there,” he said.
The special adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on security matters, Mr. Haruna Yusuf, who confirmed the arrest of four miners, said the matter is being handled by the police command in Benin, will be seen to its logical conclusion.