The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Bayelsa State Command, has deployed no fewer than 100 fully armed operatives to protect solid minerals in the state.
The corps personnel are to work in concert with Licensed Mineral Operators of the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals to tackle all forms of illegal mining activities in the state.
Inaugurating the group at the state headquarters of the corps on Friday, the state Commandant, NSCDC, Mr. Desmond Agu, said the deployment was part of the measures to protect the nation’s critical assets to shore up revenue for the Federal Government.
He said, “Already, at the federal level, the Federal Government, through the Comptroller General of the corps, has inaugurated the group, giving us a charge to be protecting solid mineral resources, particularly those that are being mined illegally.
“As you will recall, there has been a great concern now about the drop in federal government revenue. The Federal Government is now looking inward to see how it can generate revenue. Nigeria is a rich country blessed with solid minerals, oil and gas, agriculture.
The solid mineral is a new area that has fallen under our area of responsibility.
“You will discover that almost all states of the federation have one form of solid minerals or the other. Some have yet to be discovered, others have been discovered. You might be wondering while this group is formed in Bayelsa when you only hear of oil in Bayelsa.”
He said the lands in Bayelsa, as revealed by the geological survey carried out, have different forms of solid minerals that are embedded in them.
He said the group was formed in view of the fact that illegal miners had been taking advantage in the past because not much attention was paid to the sector.
Agu added, “So, the Federal government has now formed what is regarded as licensed mineral operators. So, only those who have licences are now allowed to mine solid minerals. Our own job is to sanitise the industry, provide the necessary security and arrest illegal miners.
“This is just a group of them. They are about 100 personnel. Some have started working and they are in various local governments in the state. We have gunboats by the riverside to aid our operations. They will be going from local government to local government to carry out this.”
The commandant urged the team to be dedicated and be alive to their duties by putting the country first in their assignment.
He warned against any compromise, aiding and abetting illegalities, saying that any operative caught indulging in illegalities would be seriously sanctioned.