Illegal Mining : Special Mobile Court Sentence 7 People to 3 years Imprisonment in Taraba

Emmanuel Awari-Jalingo

A Special Mobile Court has sentence seven persons to three years imprisonment or a fine of N100,000 each for Illegal mining activities in Taraba State.

The court presided over by Useni Galadima, found the defendants guilty of all the charges raised against them.

The illegal miners were arrested by the Special Task Force for Environmental Protection against illegal mining and deforestation in the state, which was established by Governor Dr. Agbu Kefas and led by Brigadier General Jeremiah Aliyu Faransa (rtd).

The arrests took place in Sina Nguroje, Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State.

The charges against them were for violating executive order number 3 issued by the state government on the 23rd of June, 2023, and for not complying with sections 42 B and C of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act applicable in Taraba State.

The prosecuting counsel, Barrister Nierus Johnson, argued that the defendant’s actions were punishable under section 60 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act of 2004.

He emphasized that the defendants had pleaded guilty to the illegal mining charges.

A witness, Baba Gandy, a retired Superintendent of Police and member of the special task force, testified against the defendants, saying that they were caught in the act of illegal mining at Mayo Sina in Ngoruje ward.

The task force asked the defendants to produce the stones they had previously mined as evidence.

The defendants presented 12 wrappers containing precious stones wrapped in yellow polityne bag.

When questioned by the lead counsel, the witness confirmed his ability to identify these precious stones due to their distinctive wrapping.

To ensure accuracy and proper identification, the precious stones were then presented to the witness, who diligently examined and counted them.

The result confirmed that there were indeed 12 wrapped suspected precious stones.

Following the witness’s statement, Barrister Nierus Johnson requested the court to convict the defendants by the provisions of section 60 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act of 2004 and also sought an order to seal the mining site and equipment at Mayo Sina in Ngoruje ward.

One of the defendants pleaded for leniency, stating that they had pleaded guilty to the offense.

After a brief adjournment, Barrister Muhammad Nasir, counsel for the defendants, requested further time to gather evidence and educate the defendants about their rights. However, the lead counsel objected to the late application and insisted on proceeding with the ruling.

In his rulling, the pressing judge, Magistrate Useni Galadima sentenced each defendant to three years imprisonment and a fine of N100,000.

Speaking shortly after the the verdict, Barrister Nierus Johnson, the lead counsel representing the state government, emphasized the importance of protecting the environment from illegal mining activities and the need to comply with environmental impact assessment regulations.

The Chairman of the Task Force, Brigadier General Jeremiah Aliyu Faransa (rtd), expressed concern about environmental degradation and potential disasters in some areas of the state.

“The actions were not aimed at discouraging investors but rather ensuring that all mining companies adhere to the guidelines in place.

“All investors are welcome, but they should ensure that they follow all land laws as stipulated by the state government.

“Some companies after obtaining a license in Abuja, they just rush into the state without informing the state government – he said.

Also speaking, Barrister Nasir Muhammad, counsel for the defendants, expressed his intention to challenge the judgment of the court.

The court’s ruling serves as deterant to all intending illegal miners in the state and a step in the state’s efforts to combat illegal mining and safeguard the environment.

Recall that on 29th June, 2023, Taraba State Governor, Dr. Agbu Kefas approved the constitution of a 14 member task force on the suspension of mining activities in Taraba State. The Committee has Brigadier General Jeremiah Aliyu Faransa (Rtd)as Chairman and Major Ishaq Soje Mafindi (Rtd)as Vice Chairman, while the Committee members include; Lcpl Akpana Godwin, Private Ofoli Omini, and Private Ofoli Eket from the Army as members.
ASP Adamu Danya, Abdul Direba, and Habu Ciroma from the Nigerian Police and Supt Haruna Yahaya, ASCI Bello Danjuma Yusuf, and ASCII from the NSCDC.
Others include; DS Useni, AA, Girgir, and HN Vanaruwa from the DSS.

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