River pollution: Osun govt blows hot, declares war on illegal miners

The Osun State Government has declared that it is ready to launch a full-blown war on illegal mining activities in the State.

The government, which bemoaned the flagrant abuse of its environment by illegal miners, especially the pollution of the Osun River, read the riot act to those who have resisted guidance and refused to follow approved standards for mining in Osun.

The State government said it was ready to take the battle to the mineral resources exploiters and defaulters of environmental standards in the State.

Making this known on Wednesday in Osogbo, the State Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Funke Egbemode explained that the government also warned indigenes who are leasing out their farmlands to illegal miners to desist from such act or face the law.

Egbemode added that the State had contacted NESREA and MIREMCO and was planning a joint taskforce to apprehend those found wanting in line with global best standards in mining.

While enjoining the citizens of the state to report suspicious and degrading mining activities within their communities, she explained that the State will not allow selfless miners endanger the environment and the Osun River as it is a heritage worth protecting.

The commissioner noted that the state government had been committed to maintaining and promoting the State as a tourist destination as it is the host to the Osogbo sacred grove UNESCO World Heritage sites.

According to her, “Osun State Government is worried and deeply concerned about the flagrant abuse of its environment by illegal miners who are daily degrading and polluting the Osun River. In spite of efforts to curb the excesses of these fly-by-night businessmen, they have consistently resisted guidance and refused to follow approved standards for mining in Osun.

“The state Government’s mining blueprint has sought through a combination of enforcement and formalisation via registration and capacity development of artisanal miners, to mitigate the degradation caused by mining.

“While these achievements present the state’s proactive policies designed to change the mining landscape, the state continues to deal with the scourge of illicit and irresponsible mining that is causing the pollution of the Osun river.

“Governor Oyetola has since deployed its limited enforcement resources to curbing illegal and informal mining to arrest the despoilation of our land and pollution of our rivers. To date, the enforcement actions have led to the arrests of several individuals for illicit mining, seizures and site closures.

“In addition to the enforcement activities the state has commissioned studies on the level of pollution and how to remediate it and also sought assistance from the Federal Government as well as Development partners, including from the Ecological fund, to remediate the damage.”

While assuring that the State government will continue its enforcement, Egbemode lamented that it was constrained by constitutional limits where the Federal Government exercises exclusive jurisdiction over mining.

The Information Commissioner stated that it has become imperative for the government to serve the illegal miners the last warning as the state would no longer fold its hands while they threw caution to the winds and ruin the heritage sites.

Egbemode, who noted that the Osun River is not just a geographical landmark, added that it is one of the few accredited UNESCO heritage sites in Nigeria, which the state will do everything to protect and preserve.

“Illegal miners are, therefore, served a notice to shape in or ship out. If they cannot operate within the ambits of World Standards and observe safety protocols, they may have to take their business elsewhere.

“Osun State under the leadership of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola will hold nothing back in fighting these agents of pollution and degradation masquerading as businessmen. There will be arrests and prosecution in the coming days and there will be no sacred cows. Nobody, however, highly placed will be allowed to put the future of our water bodies in jeopardy.

“Let us also use this opportunity to warn those who are leasing out their farmlands to illegal miners to desist or face the law.”

Meanwhile, an Osun based social advocacy group, Urban Alert has been calling for concerted efforts at tackling the illegal mining and subsequent pollution of the Osun River.

In a recent post by Anthony Adejuwon, the Urban Alert Team Lead, the group noted that the campaign to save the Osun River is not just about the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove, but about curbing and stopping illegal and unregulated gold mining activities.

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