By Abdullahi Muhammed
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday ordered the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to coordinate security concerns around illegal mining activities across the country and deduct any illegal fines imposed and collected by states and LGAs from federation accounts.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the decision followed a memo submitted to council by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite.He said the memo sought to address some of the challenges confronting the ministry and the mining sector in general.
“The Minister of Mines and Steel development presented a memo today, which largely was to ask for the council’s approval in addressing the major challenges the mining industry is facing, among which include insecurity in certain parts of the country, notably the North-West where mining activities have been suspended due to the activities of bandits and kidnappers.
“The industry is also faced with the problem of collusion between some major stakeholders, sometimes traditional rulers, the Minister also said the problem of double taxation is actually driving a lot of investors out of the country.“He also explained that certain decisions of past governments especially in the area of storage of explosives used for mining, where before now, the position was that any miner that wants to use explosives for mining must store same in either a military or police barracks.So he requested that special facilities be built for the storage of such explosives,” he said.
He said the council approved that the NSA should coordinate security issues relating to mining and special magazines be constructed for the storage of explosives meant for mining.“The Minister got the approval of council that the NSA should coordinate the issue of insecurity and illegal mining; the NSA should also coordinate the erection of safe storage facilities for explosives also known as magazines, so that we don’t have the kind of incident that happened in Lebanon.
“Council also approved that in order to protect the investments of our mining sector, and protect miners form illegal fines and impositions, any state or local government that imposes an illegal tax on any mining company, if it is reported to the federal government, the federal government will deduct that money form source and the Minister of Finance has been directed to do so form source because that money ought to come to the federal government,” he said.
He said the decision to check double taxation will assure investors interested in mining that Nigeria is a safe place to invest.