Nigeria: Federal Govt Launches Special Forces to Protect Mining Sites

The federal government yesterday unveiled a special forces outfit, the…


The federal government yesterday unveiled a special forces outfit, the Mines Marshals, to secure mineral sites and combat illegal mining in the country.

The formal unveiling of the marshals Thursday brings to fruition the pledge of the minister of solid minerals development, Dr. Dele Alake, on his assumption of office to create a new security architecture to secure mining sites.

At the event, the minister reiterated that solid minerals was the next top mineral earner for Nigeria and that insecurity was threatening to derail its contributions to revamping the nation’s economy, adding that creating a safe environment around the mineral sites was key to achieving the objectives of government for the sector.

Alake, who officially received the marshals, drawn from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), from the Commandant-General, Abubakar Audi, who represented the minister of interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, urged the 2,220-strong Mines Marshal, tagged “Operation Hayakin Kogo,” to smoke out illegal miners and all those who flout the nation’s mining laws from their hideouts.

He told the operatives to check theft and all illegal activities around the nation’s mineral resources so that the nation can earn more revenue from its mineral wealth.

The launch is the result of the efforts of the presidential Inter-ministerial committee on securing natural resources chaired by Dr. Alake, and comprising the ministries of Interior, environment, marine economy, police affairs and defence, which a few weeks ago launched the NSCDC-led mines marshal, which represents the first layer of the new security architecture to secure the mining environment.

Alake disclosed that talks are on with the Ministry of Police Affairs to boost the marshals with more men.

With a command structure spread across the 36 states and the FCT, the mines marshal will have their command and control domiciled in the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development (MSMD), with an initial 60 operatives deployed in each state and the FCT.

Highlighting the role played by his interior counterpart in the evolution of the new security outfit, Dr. Alake commended Hon. Olubunmi-Ojo for working tirelessly with the solid minerals ministry to achieve the feat.

“Today’s event of unveiling and formally handing over the specially trained and selected civil defence structure to engage illegal miners and sanitise our mining environment was also part of what we conceived at the inter-ministerial committee chaired by me. I am very happy to let the public know that from the outset we said are going to tackle insecurity in the mining sector and the first batch of the security apparati is what we are launching today,” the minister added.

The mines marshal, designed to be an inter-agency security outfit, will incorporate special operatives from other security agencies like the Nigeria Police, army, amongst others. Its operations will largely be technologically driven.

Handing over the mines marshals to the minister, NSCDC Commandant-General Abubakar Audi revealed that they were selected from among the best trained Corps by the military, adding that they will give impetus to the Corps’ mandate of protecting national assets and infrastructure, of which solid minerals is a major component.

Audi said the NSCDC had a constitutional mandate to safeguard critical national assets from vandals, of which mineral resources was among, and that it already had a department dedicated to combating illegal miners, Transport and Mining Marshals, which had recorded successes in arresting and prosecuting illegal miners, including Chinese nationals.