The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, has confirmed that he has been receiving life-threatening messages over his comment on banditry associated with illegal mining in Nigeria.
He confirmed this during a visit to the explosion site in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital on Monday.
The explosion rocked Adeyi Avenue, Bodija, Ibadan last Tuesday, in which five were confirmed dead, 77 sustained varying degrees of injuries, and 58 houses damaged.
Alake said since he commented on the involvement of powerful and highly placed Nigerians in illegal mining at the National Assembly, he has been receiving life-threatening messages.
The minister said, “If you follow my budget defence at the House of Representatives or Senate, I did say categorically to the whole world that powerful Nigerians are behind the banditry associated with illegal miners in this country.
” I said it openly, of course, I received threats, but we are undaunted because these things have to be said, and in any case, I wasn’t saying anything new, most people knew it.
“Many people have been saying it, I only gave it an official stamp, based on intelligence reports. So, there is a lot of connivance along and among the strata of the society both high, medium and low.
“It is not an exclusive preserve of just a high hut. It cuts across the strata of the society. So, this is a societal problem, and I did say at that meeting at the budgetary defence that we were employing both kinetic and non-kinetic strategies and tactics to combine all of these. The details I won’t be able to reveal publicly now because that will also be un-strategic.”
He, however, said the Federal Government was working in concert with all the critical stakeholders at the state, local government and host communities to bring to an end the activities of the illegal miners.
Alake said the involvement of the host communities became imperative because at the end of the day whatever security strategy the committee comes up with will involve the host communities and the people on the ground who have efficient knowledge of the local terrain.
“One of the things that happen now even in the forest that is unknown to many people is that the bandits who the highly placed Nigerians are sponsoring have access to funding and heavy arsenal.
“They even laid mines on the ground against our ground forces that were moving in the forest to dislodge them. That is why we require the military’s presence, involvement and engagement,” he added.
On the Ibadan explosion, Alake, who condemned it, said, “It would be presumptuous and precipitate for the government to make any solid pronouncement or definite pronouncement on the incident for now, until we have examined all the forensic analyses reports, all the investigations from all the security agencies, the mines inspectorate division of the ministry of solid minerals, intelligence arms of the various agencies before any pronouncement
“They are all working round the clock to ensure that there is an authentic and very viable forensic report to the government. It is after this that the government will be on the solid platform to make an informed judgment and a categorical statement, anything before then will be presumptuous, precipitate and could be misleading at the end of the day.” (Punch)