Despite the Adeleke-led administration’s decision to halt mining operations, numerous local miners continue to extract minerals in the settlements of Ilesa and its environs.
This comes just five weeks after Governor Ademola Adeleke commanded mining companies operating in Osun State with state-issued permits to immediately halt operations.
Reliable sources confirmed that some local miners, especially from the North, are still working in Iregun-Ijesa, Itagunmodi, Ibodi, Idominasi, Ilesa, and other Ijesaland localities.
Around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, when this reporter went to the community of Idominasi in Obokun Local Government, he noticed large, empty holes that were covered in leaves or broken trees, which were indicative of abandoned mining sites.
This reporter also observed several, vivacious young guys crossing the street with diggers, iron buckets, and dane guns for protection, while others were seen leaving the mining area.
Efforts by this reporter to take shot of some local miners ended in futility because they were watchful, observant and extremely ready to attack if any camera or phone is targeted at them but two clear pictures were taken from a far.
Adedayo Philips, an Idominasi resident, revealed to this reporter that while small miners continue to operate, only large mining corporations follow the state government’s directive.
The 25-year-old man claimed that local miners, who are largely Northerners, may be seen about 6 or 7 in the morning, and that they depart the mine site between 5 and 6 in the evening.
The mysterious disappearance of Chinese nationals and other employees of a major mining company began at the end of December, according to a different inhabitant who only went by the name Mummy Wura, who informed this writer about it.
The woman in her forties claimed that she and other locals believed they had taken a vacation and were waiting for them to resume business after the holiday season, but they did not appear.
I haven’t seen any Chinese residents for weeks, let alone those sporting helmets and uniforms. Every morning, she remarked, we only see neighborhood miners using their equipment.
Samuel Okunade (not his real name) questions whether the directive prohibiting companies from starting mining operations has any impact on the local miners.
Okunade, a farmer and father of four in Idominasi, expressed his discontent with the local miners’ ongoing mining operations.
They don’t care who owns the property. Simply choosing a piece of land, they begin digging. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, they leave these holes and move on to other locations. He bemoaned their excessive recklessness and lack of concern.
While recounting his friend’s ordeal, Okunade revealed that some neighborhood miners broke into his friend’s field, dug trenches, and then fled.
He emphasized that the incident caused his sad friend to lose interest in farming and that he had started using transportation as a substitute for farming as a source of income.
These nearby miners are constantly armed. They are aggressive and constantly prepared to attack when provoked. Even our language is not understood by them (Yoruba). He said, “They merely dig holes and leave once they are finished.”
The fact that local miners are still actively working in mining was confirmed by a high police official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
While expressing surprise at the lack of an increase in crime, a police source revealed to this reporter that after the governor ordered the suspension of mining operations, they had anticipated a dramatic surge in crime in communities where people mine gold.
The explanation seems plausible. We would like to think that the governor’s order was solely followed by large mining companies. He claimed that the action is still being carried out covertly by local miners, who are primarily invaders with a history of violence or criminal activity.
If a complete prohibition were to be implemented, sufficient security measures would need to be taken to ensure that no crisis or rise in crime would occur. Credible substitutes must also be offered to those whose families rely on mining for their subsistence. He continued, “If they are unable to work in the field, they resort to stealing or robbery.”
Speaking about the invasion and damage of farmlands, the senior cop stated that police may only look into recorded crimes.
The police are not sorcerers. They are limited to handling reported cases. We never assume. We use historical data to inform our predictions.
There is no way around the fact that cases are not properly reported to the police. We constantly advise our staff to report such incidents to the police, he continued.