The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uche Ogah, has suggested potent punitive measures in fighting gold smuggling crimes.
Ogah advocated this at an investigative hearing on $9 billion annual loss to illegal mining and smuggling of gold, organised by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy.
According to him, the menace thrives due to the connivance of security agencies with the offenders, host communities’ collaboration, low level of application of technology and negative mindsets of Nigerians to Nigeria.
“For these crimes to be fought decisively, potent punitive measures like capital punishment need to be legally provided for,” he said.
He added that the menace could be tackled proactively through the establishment of mines police, special court or tribunals to try offenders, adequate funding for the ministry and positive mindsets of Nigerians to Nigeria.
“Gold smuggling in Nigeria is often done using private jets, the very reason why private jets ownership and operations need to be streamlined in the country,” he said.
He said gold smuggling and illegal mining are robbing the country of billions of dollars on a yearly basis.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Tanko Al-Makura (APC, Nasarawa), said heads of relevant government agencies would be summoned for a thorough investigation into illegal mining and gold smuggling.
He listed the agencies to include: Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services (DSS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).