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Published On: Fri, Jul 20th, 2018

Reps probe $50bn loss in gold revenue, illegal mining

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By Christiana Ekpa and Umar Muhammad Puma

The House of Representatives yesterday resolved to investigate the loss of over $50 billion (N8Trillion) in gold tax revenue from 2013 to 2018.
This was even as the House passed, through second reading, a bill for an act to upgrade the Federal College of Education, Omoku, Rivers State to a university.
It equally urged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to routinely subject members of crew and pilots of the airlines operating in Nigeria to various tests before and after flights, to determine their fitness or otherwise to fly.
Peoples Daily reports that the loss of $50 billion from gold revenue was essentially attributed to illegal mining and exportation of unprocessed gold from Nigeria.
Moving the motion titled: “Urgent Need to Investigate Over 50 Billion Dollars (8 Trillion Naira) Loss in Gold Tax Revenue and Illegal Mining in the Last 5 years” at the plenary, the sponsor of the motion, Hon. Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma (Edo State), told the House that the country was being fleeced by some elements who were working against its progress.
He recalled some reports from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) which indicated that in 2014 and 2015, Nigeria lost about $9 billion to illegal mining operations and gold exportation.
He said: “The House notes the need to diversify from reliance on crude oil to alternative sources of revenue to cushion the effects of the nation’s dwindling oil revenue;
“Also notes that the mining sector is a key driver in National Economic Development as Nigeria has the fourth largest reserve of bitumen in the world and the second largest Iron ore deposits in Africa, as well as abundant coal resources;
“Concerned that the Mining industry in Nigeria is under-utilized, leading to importation of minerals that could produce domestically;
“Also concerned that from reports in 2016 by Signal One International (SOI), a privately owned United States Company, Nigeria has lost over $50 billion in gold revenue tax over the last 2 years as a result of illegal mining and exportation of unprocessed Gold;
“Aware that the former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi identified inadequate tracking as key challenges to effective monitoring of revenue leakages in the Nations mining sector;
“Worried that reports from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) indicated that in 2014 and 2015, Nigeria lost about $9 billion to illegal mining operations and gold exportation;
“Also Worried at the current average price of $1,200per ounce of gold in the international market, which amounts to an unaccounted sum of $4,232,400 per day and $1,544,826,000 per annum, considering that one kilogram is equal to 35.27 ounces, going by international rates”.
Adopting the motion, the House referred it to the Ad-hoc Committee already investing federal government recovered funds and assets to investigate the revenue leakages in the mining sector and the illegal mining of the country’s mineral resources in the last 5 years.
The Committee will also probe the activities of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in curtailing and tracking all mineral movement within and outside Nigeria.
It was given 6 weeks to conclude the assignment and report back to the House for further Legislative action.
Similarly, the House also called airline operators in Nigeria to diligently ensure that only sober pilots/members of their crew were allowed to fly their planes.
The resolution was due to a motion titled “Danger of Pilots Flying under the Influence of Alcohol and Psychoactive Substances”, sponsored by Hon. Taofeek Abiodun Adaranijo
Moving the motion, Hon. Adaranjo recalled that in December 2016, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspended the medical certificates of five members of the crew who tested positive to marijuana during a drug-screening test conducted on participants of the Cabin Crew Training Basic Course at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) Zaria, Kaduna State.
He also stated that NCAA in May 2017 conducted random tests on 87 personnel from Air Peace, Med-View and Air Traffic Controllers of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) as they were about to embark upon flight operations and air traffic control duties.
According to him, a member of crew tested positive to a psychoactive substance – Tetrahydrocannabinol (THe) which is known to be the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects.
The House while adopting the motion mandated its Committee on Aviation to liaise with the Ministry of Transportation to ensure implementation of the resolution.
Also passing to second reading the bill to upgrade the federal college of education, Omoku to a university, the House relied on the argument of the sponsor, Hon. Uchechukwu Nnam-Obi who said that area located in Rivers West Senatorial Zone had over 100 oil wells which accounted for 63% of Rivers State revenue and not less than 40% of oil and gas revenue in Nigeria.

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