Nigerian Govt Bans Mining Activities Again, Declares Zamfara No-Fly Zone

President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian government has banned ban mining activities in the country’s North-western state of Zamfara over rising insecurity in the state, and placed non-state actors under surveillance. 

National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (retd) handed down President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive while he was briefing State House correspondents.

The decision was reached at a meeting of National Security Council presided over by Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday March 2.

Monguno also announced that the President has declared Zamfara state a no-fly zone.

Daily Trust reported that Monguno reiterated that the federal government would not hesitate to use kinetic means to restore normalcy in the country, while also disclosing that defense and intelligence organisations had been charged not to allow the country slide into anarchy.

He said,  “We can no longer avoid to lose lives while operating within the legalities. We are not going to blackmailed. The government has the responsibility to assert its will.

“Citizens can reside wherever they want to reside. Anybody who is a criminal should be brought to book. The president has also warned against ethnic profiling. We have enough of chaos.

“Any individual that thinks he can cause disunity should have a rethink.”

Recall that in April 2019, Nigerian government suspended mining in the restive state amidst concerns that illegal miners were connected to a surge in banditry.

The suspension underscored the breakdown of security in a part of the country where the military, police and state security forces have been deployed in recent weeks to tackle criminal gangs behind a spate of killings and kidnappings.

Last Friday, schoolgirls of Government Girls Science College, Jangebe in the state were abducted.

Security forces in Nigeria, which has Africa’s biggest economy and whose security is central to regional stability, are already stretched tackling a decade-long Islamist insurgency in the northeast and communal fighting between farmers and herders over dwindling land.

Nigeria has largely untapped deposits of minerals including gold, tin and zinc. Some 80 percent of mining in Nigeria is carried out on an artisanal basis and gold in Zamfara is routinely smuggled out of the country illegally to neighboring Niger and Togo.

Zamfara is the state worst hit by the uptick of violence that has killed dozens of people since the start of the year. The surge began in 2018, when it prompted the deployment of the air force and 1,000 security personnel to the state.

Joint operations between security agencies have been launched focusing on the northwestern states of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina, as well as the western states of Kogi and Niger.

Banditry has plagued the northwest for years, particularly around Zamfara state and neighboring Kaduna state, although the recent spate of kidnappings and killings in the northwest has put the region in the public view.