The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, has said that miners and operators in the sector owed the Federal Government more than N2 trillion.
This is as the minister stressed that the current administration of President Bola Tinubu is determined to halt the activities of illegal miners across the country.
Alake described the activities of illegal miners as a huge crime against Nigeria and Nigerians, which he said, was unacceptable.
The minister stated this during a meeting with Licensed Minerals Holders, Laterite /Sand Operators Dealers in Kaduna State, on Thursday.
He said, “Miners and Operators owed the federal government more than N2trn” while “in Kaduna State, it’s over N300bn.”
“We have made it very clear that in Kaduna State, every operator should make bold steps and clear their debt,” the minister, represented by the Acting Zonal Mines Officer, North-West Zonal Office, Kutman Hosea Ali, said.
Meanwhile, the minister has directed the Special Mines Taskforce activated in Kaduna State to clamp down on illegal miners and nonpayment of royalties which must be paid monthly as well as other taxes to the apex government.
The Special Mines Surveillance Taskforce is comprised of members from the Nigeria Army, Police, Civil Defence Corp, Department of State Security Services, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and Nigeria Immigration Service while the team is headed by Mines officers in the state.
He also faulted the non-remittance of money collected as royalties and taxes on mineral resources to the federal government, warning that defaulting states would henceforth be penalized.
According to him, mining is on the exclusive list as such it is only controlled by the federal government while the state and local governments are not allowed to collect royalties or any mining tax.
“Let me clarify it, state government and local government are entitled to collect other taxes such as ground rent and other taxes but they are not to collect royalty and tax on mining
“Any state government or any local government that collects money in the name of Royalty or Mineral Tax will be deducted from the source allocated to the State.
“The Special Mines Taskforce has been activated in Kaduna State and they had commenced operation on the war against illegal Mining and nonpayment of royalties which must be paid monthly as well as other taxes to the Government of Nigeria,” the minister added.
He warned miners and operators against going to the field without a mining license while noting that those who had obtained their license “should report to the Mines Office, Kaduna to collect permit to mobilise to site”.
He said the purpose of the meeting was to unveil the ministry’s plan for miners and operators for 2024 and beyond.
Alake explained that the mining sector under the administration of President Tinubu was given a top priority, noting that the importance of the meeting cannot be overemphasized.
In his brief remarks, the Chairman of the Miners Association of Nigeria, Kaduna branch, Ado Dogo, represented by the Secretary of the association, Kashim Hussaini, said the interface between miners and the regulators became imperative.
He decried what he termed the interference of state governors in mining activities while stressing the need for state governors to respect the laws guiding mining activities in their various states.
“We as miners know we are operating within a state, local government, and even down to villages but sometimes, state governors can stop you from working. Meanwhile, this mining operation is what we are doing by contributing to the federation account,” he said.