Uche Ogah, Nigeria’s minister of state for mines and steel development, has accused private jet owners in Nigeria of smuggling gold outside Nigeria. Mr. Ogah made the disclosure on Tuesday at a public hearing on solid minerals development, presided over by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Solid Mineral Development and former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Tanko Al-Makura.
It is estimated that Nigeria loses $9 billion annually to illegal mining and smuggling of gold, according to an earlier motion sponsored by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, before the senate went on annual recess, as reported in the DAILY POST.
“Gold smuggling in Nigeria is often done using private jets, the very reason private jets ownership and operations, need to be streamlined in the country, “Mr. Ogah said.
According to him, illegal mining in Nigeria started far back in the early 1980s as a result of the indigenization policy of the military regime in the late 1970s. The challenge, he explained, was prompted by the inability of indigenous workers to obtain mineral titles and required technology for mining used by the British miners before the indigenization policy.
“For these crimes to be fought decisively, potent punitive measures like capital punishment, need to be legally provided for.”
He, however, added that the menace can be tackled proactively through the establishment of Mines Police, Special Court or Tribunals to try offenders, adequate funding for the ministry, and positive mindsets of Nigerians to Nigeria.
In the same vein, a member of the Committee, Senator Francis Fadaunsi alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), made smuggling so easy in Nigeria.
The apex bank, he explained, facilitates the menace through its lopsided and exclusive policy on FOREX availability to Nigerians.
According to him, “Gold smuggling and Illegal mining are carried out by political elites and not just the poor masses at the illegal mining sites.