Global Rights, an international Human Rights Organisation and a leading voice, advocating justice for the Mining Host Communities in Nigeria has said myriad of challenges being confronted by the Mining Host communities are often trivialized, overlooked and underreported thereby degenerating into life threatening anarchy and insecurity issues in the country.
The Organization made this known at a 2-day Capacity building workshop for the Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities in Abuja, held between 21st and 22nd April.
Speaking at the workshop, Abiodun Baiyewu, Country Director, Global Rights Nigeria stated that despite the fact that 80% of mining in Nigeria is artisinal mining, Nigeria does not have a constitution that deals directly with artisinal mining.
Adding that several challenges being confronted by these Mining Host communities are often trivialised, overlooked and underreported by the duty bearers who are oftentimes, major beneficiaries of these illegal mining activities.
“These communities suffer horrible human rights violations on daily basis. Their major crime? they happen to be the citizens of Nigerians.” she said.
Baiyewu said the communities where artisinal mining activities take place in Nigeria are bedeviled with difficult to access terrains, high unemployment, environmental degradation, public health challenges, high insecurity rate, and a very high rate of poverty amongst others.
Citing the current state of insecurity in Zamfara State where Bandits kill, maim and abduct the citizens with impunity, as a typical of example of what trivialization of these challenges could degenerate to.
“Back in 2010 and 2011, when Lead poisoning were killing the Children, killed more than 700 children and rendering their men impotent in Bagega community, we sent out several warnings to all levels of government in order to prevent these challenges from escalating into an untamed state of anarchy but it all fell on deaf ears.
“We persisted with the advocacy, did our best until immediate past Senate President, Bukola Saraki fast tracked the remediation of that community.” Baiyewu stated.
UmmiSalma Abubakar, one of the Zamfara delegates at the workshop who spoke to our correspondent said the challenges of insecurity exacerbated by Artisinal mining activities and the collusion with foreign mining companies owned by the Chinese miners have become like a curse rather than a blessing.
“Due to the governance failure, state government waded into mining, with government officials, banning artisinal miners, who only see mining as their only source of livelihood. And when the situation got worse, they went underground.”
On several occasions, we would see Planes and different aircrafts landing in Zamfara state, off loading ammunitions while all the Gold that were mined would be taken away to an unknown destination.” she said.
Nevertheless, Ummisalma, who is also Project Coordinator, Center for Community Excellence, said the workshop has given her better understanding on how to educate her people regarding to the negative impacts of the mining activities in the state.
Ebonyi State Delegate at the Workshop, Executive Director of Neighbourhood Environment Watch Foundation, Dr Kelechukwu Okezie who also spoke to us said unregulated mining activities in the State have resulted in some of the worst problems such as depletion of arable lands for farming, diseases, cheap labour, prostitution and other Social vices thereby promoting poverty mindsets amongst the mining host communities.
“What we have seen in Ebony State, are mostly environmental degradation where the miners dug up the Arable lands and abandoned it and move on to degrade another one else where”
“The changes we want to see is that, both Artisanal and Small Scale Mining must contribute to the development of their host communities, However, it needs enabling laws and policies.
He added that the communities must lead the discussions and be proactive in the defending their constitutional rights.
Okezie further stated that the 2 day workshop had impacted him positively on how to go about leading these discussions and advocating for Social justice for the mining Host Communities in Ebonyi State.