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Why Mbah sealed illegal mining sites in Enugu

THE Enugu State government has embarked on the sealing of mining sites that operate without environmental impact certifications and mitigation plans, following an order by the state governor, Peter Mbah, banning all illegal mining in the state.

On Monday, the State Committee on Mining Activities, led by its chairman and Commissioner for Environment and Climate Change, Prof. Sam Ugwu commenced the sealing of the sites.

At a mining site in Awhum, Udi Local Government Area, owned by Milhouse Ltd, Ugwu told journalists that the government would not fold its hands and watch people destroy the environment and endanger lives.

The General Manager in charge of operations at the site, Akintola Oluwafemi, said that the company would comply with government directives, and that the firm obtained all necessary licenses from the Federal Government while mindful of the environment in its operations.

Enugu State governor, Peter Mbah

During the unscheduled inspection of mining activities, Ugwu said various infringements ranging from environmental degradation to blasting without approval and due regulations, non-remittance of staff tax to the state government despite deducting same from the staff as well as non-remittance of pension contributions to the pension scheme despite deducting same from the staff, among others were reportedly discovered.

He said, “Our mission is basically to seal mining activities that do not have any recourse to the state government.

“We equally want to see the veracity of the license, which they claim they have and to find out how they have been remitting their environmental fees to Enugu State Government.

“We are very much interested in what happens to these host communities and their environs many years after these miners have closed shop because if you take a look at the Niger Delta, the people are still suffering greatly from environmental degradation caused by oil exploration activities of many decades ago.

“Enugu powered the industries of Europe and beyond at some point through this same coal. Today, our environment is still bearing the scars and brunt of those mining activities. So, we will not fold our hands and watch that happen all over again.”

He said the government was aware of mining sites in different parts of the state operating illegally and without licence or running afoul of environmental protection laws and regulations, but “the government is coming after all of them.”

The Committee also served a notice on African Pits and Quarries Ltd to stop operations immediately and report to the Government.

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