Ben Ezechime, Enugu
The Enugu State Government says it has sealed the Ezimo-Agu illegal coal mining site in Udenu Local Government Area of the state.
The government acting on credible information swooped on the illegal miners in collaboration with police operatives of the Obollo-Afor Divisional Police Headquarters.
They also arrested six men and confiscated seven trucks for allegedly, violating ban on illegal mining in the state.
The arrest followed the latest order by the state government that illegal mining operators be arrested and their operational vehicles confiscated if found at the mining site.
Dr Kingsley Nnaji, Special Adviser to the State Governor on Energy and Solid Minerals, who paid an unscheduled visit to the site in company of the state government team, Udenu Local Government Chairman and the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Obollo- Afor Police Divisional headquarters, CSP Ignatius Attah, and police operatives, said the state government had in November 2023 issued a ban on illegal mining activities in the state.
According to him, the government subsequently sealed the illegal sites, urging the operators to meet with the state government with relevant documents required for mining.
He added that some illegal operators flouted the directive and continued mining activities.
Nnaji disclosed that, following a tip off, the state government got to know that illegal mining activities were still going on at some of the sealed sites, hence it embarked on monitoring and to take inventory of the confiscated vehicles in Police custody.
He said: “The state government is not against genuine investors in the state but frowns at the illegal ones, who have caused havoc to the state, got the environent degraded and polluted streams from which the people fetch their drinking water.”
Nnaji insisted that they must face the music for violating the order of the government.
“They violated the Court order against illegal mining in Enugu State issued two months ago.
“The state government gave another order to confiscate the vehicles (trucks, caterpillars), equipment found at the illegal sites and be taken to a Police station and they will liaise with the police to do the necessary things before the property will be released, ” Nnaji said.
He said the order included buyers of coal at illegal sites.
“If nobody was buying coal, nobody will mine. We are clamping down on illegal miners.
“We are open to legitimate business. There is a procedure. The buyers should go to the local government chairman, Divisional Police Officer of the area and the State Government, present their documents and seek permission from the authorities before going to the site (s). We will follow due process,” he said.
The special adviser warned people in vehicle/equipment lease businesses not to lease their vehicles and equipment to illegal miners, saying that if they are caught, the vehicles will be confiscated.
The DPO of Obollo- Afor CSP Ignatius Attah, in his remarks, said they were working with the Udenu Local Government Chairman and would continue to support the state government in its efforts to rid the state of illegal miners.
Six men including two workers, two armed security operatives, one mechanic, and one alleged illegal Coal mining site owner were arrested and taken to Enugu State Police Headquarters, where they met with the Commissioner of Police, Kanayo Uzuegbu; made statements and subsequently were detained.
The vehicles confiscated were four trailers, one pay loader Caterpillar, (in Police custody) one low bed and one big conveying truck.