As the running battle between illegal gold miners and the Dangbala community in Akoko Edo local government area of Edo State continued, four of the recalcitrant miners suspected to be non-indigenes, have been arrested by local vigilantes in the area and handed over to men of the Edo State Police Command in Benin City. They are presently being detained at the state Criminal Investigation Department, SCID of the command.
The activities of the armed illegal miners have heightened tension in the community especially when they, sometime last week, unleashed violence on one Peter Adelabu Kokumo at Oketegbe mining site where they operated allegedly in collusion with some community elders.
Spokesman of the community, Collins Nicholas, who addressed newsmen in Benin on the development, demanded the prosecution of those arrested in connection with illegal mining in the community. Nicholas said those behind illegal mining in the community had also resorted to frivolous petition-writing against those opposed to their criminal activities to mislead the public. He therefore called on the Police authorities to unmask them.
Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on security matters, Haruna Yusuf, when contacted, also confirmed the arrest of the four illegal miners and noted that the matter was being handled by the police command in Benin.
Nicholas told newsmen that “Presently, illegal mining still strives in my community day and night. Those benefiting boasted that they are untouchable. Even when local security (vigilante) came, they prevented them from gaining access to the site. Secondly, they are using the name of our traditional head to write petition against those opposed to them in Dangbala. This is a traditional ruler that is bedridden and can’t even talk, nor take any decision. On the 10th of November, 2021, we were invited to the state CID on allegation of threat to life and breach of peace; but to our dismay, the said petitioners couldn’t show up. We are demanding that the petitioners should be produced”.
According to him, “Even when the police visited the community, they discovered that our traditional head was bed-ridden. It was at that point they now asked us to go and settle. That was when they brought hundreds of illegal miners that invaded our community. Those faceless petition-writers are the ones destroying Dangbala because as I speak, there are guns and dangerous weapons in the community, and our people are no longer safe.
“We are calling on all well-meaning Akoko-Edo people world over, to speak out against this invasion and the wanton stealing of our God-given resources. Those already arrested should be prosecuted because we want peace and development”.
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