From Yakubu Mustapha, Minna
The federal government has been charged to protect communities where mining activities are carried out through diligent implementation of the laws and regulatory framework guiding solid minerals in the country.
The Country Director of Global Rights, Abiodun Baiyewu gave the charge at a 3-day capacity building workshop in Minna yesterday, on “Protecting Host Community Rights in Solid Mineral Mining” to sensitize Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and host communities on issues related to mining, and how to ensure that it is done in a sustainable manner, with the rights of host communities respected accordingly.
Baiyewu stated that “Communities are powerless and need to actively seek to arm themselves with knowledge to seek for the protection of their own rights. Our laws – particularly relating to their protection are still pretty slack. They and civil society organisations need to be at the forefront of protecting host community rights in Nigeria. They will be the better for it”.
The Director further intimated that there was the need to increase transparency and accountability in the mining sector if the sector is to develop efficaciously.
Baiyewu noted that states should in turn explore the possibility of devising a State Solid Minerals Information Management System (SSMIMS), to collate information on licensed miners, employees of mineral title holders or exploration license holders, approved mineral title area, royalties paid, details of corporate social responsibility initiatives and other relevant information.
According to Country Director, this would help deal with the menace of illegal mining, ensure transparency in revenue, accountability in the volumes of resources mined, protect the interest of host communities and overall, promote better governance of the sector.
She urged the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Federal Ministry of Environment to be pro-active and alive to their duties.