‘Gold rush’ in Edo, govt must intervene

The presence of gold mines at vast sites has attracted influx of over 1000 strangers from different parts of Nigeria, including Zamfara and Sokoto States into Egbetua in Ososo Community, Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State.

Strangers with their kingpins are squatting their people in the locality for this illegal gold trade, has raised the spectre of despair among rural dwellers with all forms of unrest, especially kidnappings and armed robbery.

Investigation revealed that residents of Egbetua in Ososo, Akoko along with her neighbours now find it difficult to access their farms and lawful businesses, amid complaints by some residents of the area.

It was learnt that the gold mining site, investigation revealed has been in operation secretly and quietly for over 25 years and its located inside the Odo bush of about 15 kilometres from the main town of Ososo, which is an agrarian settlement.

Egbetua Council of Chiefs and Elders, had called the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and authorities of, Akoko-Edo Local Government Council in separate letters dated April 17, 2024, to urgently intervene and the unauthorized mining.

The title of the letter titled: “Call for urgent intervention to clear illegal mining in Egbetua-Ososo”, and “Urgent appeal for assistant in Egbetua Community, Ososo”.

The preemptive measures were taken following attempts by some notable Nigerians behind this illegal mining trade, to force some farmers out of their legitimate means of livelihood, for unhindered gold mining trade in the locality.

Chief Yusuf Umaru Okara, popularly known as”Caska” who claimed to be working for one of the gold miners, attested to opacity and non-transparent nature of the illicit trade.

He also alleged that they said brought them from Sokoto and Zamfara States amongst others into Egbetua.

The rural dwellers said one Mr Rigidi, from the northern part of Nigeria is his employer.

The go between them and Caska, pays them after mining depending on the number of grams they are able to source in weekly.

Each gram attracts between N16,000 and N18,000, according to Jafara Hassan.

Hassan said, “We are working for Caska as gold miners here (Egbetua) and he is living in Ososo. I am from Zamfara state. Stabitu Yakubun (pointing to his colleague) is from Zamfara state also”.

Asked why they did not work today (Sunday April 28th 2024), Hassan said, they were told by Caska not to work as vigilantes and soldiers were coming into the bus following the spake of kidnappings in the area.

“We were told not to walk around in the bush as vigilantes and soldiers were coming into the bush.

“We are here in search for gold for Caska and I am from Zamfara. I have been over the years”, Abdulazizu Sani, one of the workers boasted.

The responses of Sani Sotu, Tsahtu Jamilu, Abdullahi Usaini Yahaha and Mallam Basiru were not different from their colleagues who revealed claimed to be working in groups for their employer.

The Community head, Chief Peter Momoh, the Iddu Oremeh Osese of Egbetua, confirmed the activities of illegal gold miners in the area.

He lamented that the community has decided to put a stoppage to the illegal activities of gold miners , hence, the need for the State government intervention.

“The illegal mining activities in our Community has not only led to environmental degradation, but has also resulted in a rise in criminal activities, including frequent kidnapping of farmers, market women and children.

“This has created serious fears and noticeable sense of insecurity among our people, making it difficult for them to carry out their routine activities, including farming, which is our primary source of livelihood.

“Undoubtedly, the presence of these illegal miners has not only disrupted the peaceful coexistence in our community but has also led to total decline in economic activities!

“Our people are unable to access their farmlands due to the activities of these illegal miners.

“There’s barely a week that passes without either an aborted kidnapping attempt or successful kidnapping activity”, he said.

Investigation also brave elders of the community, have directed operators of the illegal gold mining sites to leave the communal land.

But the eviction notice fell into deaf ears as Chief Yusuf Umaru Okara ( popularly known as ‘Caska’), has refused to quit the operation.

Contacted, Chief Caska, who never wanted his voice to be recorded by journalists, denied any involvement on illegal gold mining activities in the area.

Barring any setback, Egbetua is fighting desperately to win back its heritage with a defensive campaign against illegal mining merchants who are determine to turn mineral deposits, such as gold and limestones into a curse for them.

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