Illegal miners in Benue state have been urged to seek alternative means of livelihood, as the state governor, Samuel Ortom, has directed for the immediate suspension of all forms of illegal mining activities.
The order, as observed by The Trumpet, came yesterday at an emergency security interface with stakeholders drawn from Kwande local government area.
The meeting which brought critical stakeholders from the council to Makurdi, the state capital, was at the instance of the governor whom our reporter learnt was not comfortable with the alleged illegal mining of gold in the area.
Warning that illegal mining poses security and environmental threats to not just Kwande but the entire state, he went ahead to revoke all rights granted to mining racketeers by some communities within Benue State territory.
He also threatened to prosecute anyone caught indulging in or abating illegal mining activities within the state.
Admitting that mining is in the exclusive list which is solely controlled by the Federal Government, he however stated that the lands where mining would be done were held by the governor in trust for the people of the state.
Ortom emphasized that due process must be followed in carrying out mining and prospective licensed miners will be adequately profiled before they will be allowed to carry out any mining activity in the state.
This, according to him, became necessary in order to check the infiltration of criminal elements into the state.
He also cautioned traditional rulers from the area and the state at large to refrain from unlawfully ceding lands to prospective miners, drumming that only the State government have the right to approve lands for use by anyone for such purpose.
The need from the various communities spread across the council to get involved in creating awareness in their communities on the impending dangers of allowing unauthorized people access to their communities for the purpose of mining, he believed has become necessary.
Also speaking, the former governor of the state, who is the incumbent senator representing Benue North-East Senatorial district, Gabriel Suswam tasked the people of the state on the need to come together as one and indivisible people.
Adhering to the suggestion, he believed would enable the people to overcome the security challenges that are presently bedevilling the state.
Like the governor, he passionately pleaded with traditional rulers from the state and the council in particular on the need to eschew harbouring undesirable elements in their domains.
Other stakeholders from the council who include the council’s boss and the monarch, assured the governor of their readiness to work tirelessly round the clock to frustrate the activities of the undesirable elements and those of illegal miners.