No fewer than 500 illegal miners have been arrested in Ondo State by operatives of the Special Mines Surveillance Task Force on Illegal Mining from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
A Mine Officer with Ondo State Government, Silas Godwin, who led the operation, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the suspects were arrested at Popoola Ehinoke community.
Popoola Ehinoke community is located in Ile Oluji/Okeigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
He said the task force, comprising officials of the ministry, Army, Customs, Immigration, Civil Defence and Police, carried out the operation based on intelligence information on activities of illegal miners.
“We swung into action on receiving the tip off and we are able to arrest 500 people working without the Ministry of Mines authorisation.
“From the information we got from them now, they said they were prospecting for gold but we will get to verify this,” Mr Godwin said.
He explained that the task force would continue their investigations to know those behind the operation and uncover those who engaged them.
“The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, in conjunction with security agencies, are committed to get these people burst and brought to book,” he said.
Mr Godwin, therefore, urged those who intended to venture into mining to follow the right channels and shun illegality.
“Anybody that wants to go into mining, should know that it must be backed by due process, procedure and laid down guidelines.
“It has become imperative to be within the law and must go through the right channel before you can engage in any mining in the country because the ministry has offices nationwide,” he said.
One of the suspects, Awalu Salisu, a labourer from the northern part of the country, said he was engaged by one Mr Kayode.