Members of Parliament on Thursday resolved to investigate allegations bothering on loss of over $50 billion revenue accrued from exportation of unprocessed gold over the past 2 years as a result of illegal mining activities.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Johnson Agbonayinma (APC-Edo), who cited the reports from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) which indicated that in 2014 and 2015, Nigeria lost about $9 billion to illegal mining operations and gold exportation.
In his lead debate, Agbonayinma who quoted from 2016 reports credited to Signal One International (SOI), a privately owned United States Company, observed that if the deposits of minerals have been well harnessed by Nigerian government, they would contribute more to the national economy than oil.
He noted that the current average price of $1,200 per ounce of gold in the international market, which amounts to an unaccounted sum of $4,232,400 per day and $1,544,826,000 per annum, considering that one kilogram is equal to 35.27 ounces, going by international rates.
In his contribution, Aminu Shehu Shagari (APC-Sokoto) stated that when the former Minister was before the House he unfortunately showed sympathy for illegal miners to the dismay of Members.
Shehu Shagari who frowned at the spate of the regional killings going on are as a result of the illegal mining activities across the country, called for full investigation, apprehension and prosecution of all perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
On her part, Beni Lar (PDP-Plateau) stated that in the spirit of economic diversification, Federal Government needs to do more to curb illegal mining in the bud so that the continuous revenue loss would cease.
She stated that authorities have not done enough to secure the solid mineral sector and ensure all activities are done within the purview of the law guiding the sector.
Also speaking, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje (PDP-Abia) stated that during the interactive session between the House and Heads of Government MDAs, the clear vision of these Heads were sought to ensure the slump in oil prices doesn’t overly adversely affect the country’s economy.
According to her, it was envisaged that the mining sector which acknowledged various deposits of marketable minerals nationwide would account for at least 10% of national revenues.
She however wondered why the shortfall and almost complete neglect of, and disregard for the benefits of the sector.
On his part, Samuel Onuigbo stated that for a nation so endowed like Nigeria, economic diversification should not be an option, but a way of life. The diversification would only be an added blessing due to the wide spread of all these minerals.
He also stated that the mining needs to be regulated for security of life and property of the indigenes of the region. He stated that the regulations of the mining sector are also of importance to ensure the activities are carried out to ensure there is no damage to the environment and people of the region.
While ruling, the House resolved to refer the motion to an already existing Ad-hoc Committee previously constituted to investigate the loss of revenue in the mining industry through the illegal mining of all solid minerals, not just gold.