The Federal Government has said that it would not now to pressure from influential Nigerians to release Chinese nationals caught carrying out illegal mining activities in Zamfara and Osun States.
This was disclosed to newsmen by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who also added that the Federal Government has plans to meet with the Chinese government about the illegal activities of their nationals in Nigeria.
He added that the Chinese nationals were sabotaging the Nigerian economy by their illegal gold mining activities.
Switch Nigeria had reported that two Chinese nationals were arrested in Zamfara for illegal mining activities, flouting the ban on mining activities in the state by the Federal Government.
Furthermore, 17 more Chinese nationals were caught alongside some Senegalese, Burkinabes and Nigerians, who made up a total of 37 people who were arrested for illegal mining in Osun.
Adegbite, who spoke to journalists at the Abuja headquarters of the MMSD on Friday, said the Federal Government would no longer tolerate illegal mining.
He added that some of these Chinese nationals work for influential Nigerians, however, he failed to name them.
He said, “These godfathers were operating with impunity before, but they are now scared because the arrested illegal miners are naming names but they (godfathers) are denying.
“The law is on our side and we must prosecute these people to serve as a deterrent.”
The minister said some state government officials, heads of security agencies, and traditional rulers, were involved in illegal mining.
“There is a particular situation where soldiers in a particular cantonment are aiding illegal miners,” he said.