The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, led by its Director General, Professor Aliyu Jairo, has yesterday 26th August 2020 paid an impromptu inspection visit to Kutasa village in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, where a Chinese firm which was not issued any mining lease in the area, Hongao Mining Company Limited, has been undertaking gold mining, allegedly in a manner that is against the best practice, thereby polluting the soil and degrading the environment. The plight of the community of Kutasa has been a subject of a protracted social media advocacy and outcry by a few individuals. The company is alleged to have intimidated individuals who have attempted to challenge them about their mining activities in the area.
The DG of NESREA, Professor Aliyu Jauro, paid an unscheduled inspection visit to Hongao Mining Company Limited in Kutasa community Abuja.
This followed complaints by the host community alleging the company’s activities compromised the quality of their main source of water.
Water and soil samples were taken by the NESREA’s specialists for further analysis.
The honourable Minister for Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman H. Adamu, and his counterpart from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, had on the 18th August 2020, had a meeting to deliberate on ways to check the mining activities in the FCT that had allegedly contaminated the source of water in Kutasa Community.
Below is the press release on 18th August 2020 by the Ministry of Water Resources about the development. It is signed by Kenechukwu Offie, the Ministry’s Director of Information.
FEDERAL MINISTRY OF WATER RESOURCES
FG IS SET TO CHECK WATER CONTAMINATION CAUSED BY MINING ACTIVITIES IN FCT.
As part of efforts aimed at protecting Nigeria’s groundwater from contamination occasioned by mining activities as well as to safeguard the health and well – being of Nigerians, the Hon. Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu, FNSE, FAEng, today Tuesday 18th August, 2020 in Abuja had focused meeting with the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello to articulate strategies on how best to tackle the problem(s) of water contamination and pollution in Abuja.
Engr. Adamu said that the meeting was a follow up to a video that went viral on various Social Media Platforms decrying the mining of “Gold” taking place in Kutasa Community, under Karshi in Municipal Area Council, and causing contamination and pollution to the water source for the area as well as causing environmental degradation.
Adamu explained that upon receiving the reports of the mining activity in that area, he had directed that Nigeria Water Integrated Management Commission (NWIMC) visit Kutasa community, and carry out investigation.
The outcome of the investigation revealed that “Gold” mining activities was taking place in that Community. Speaking further Engr Adamu said that the report from Nigeria Integrated Management Commission (NIMC) indicated “a red flag” to us that must not be allowed to fly further.
Engr. Adamu therefore reiterated that Federal Ministry of Water Resources, will not allow the experience of Niger State where people died of lead poisoning to repeat itself in the FCT.
The meeting was therefore to articulate strategies aimed at ending the negative activities of mining in Abuja as well as in Nigeria as a whole. It will also afford the Ministers a good opportunity to harmonize their positions before further meeting with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development.
In his response, the Minister of FCT, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello noted with dismay that the company undertaking the mining activities in Kutasa Community was not granted lease to mine gold in that Community. The action of the company he said is against the existing mining policy.
Mallam Bello also pointed out that Jabi Lake is getting contaminated as a result of human activities and population growth around the area. On other bodies in the FCT such as Lower Usuma Dam the FCT Minister said that he is equally getting undesirable debris as a result of increased human activities and called for proactive measures to save the two water bodies.
FCT Minister collaborated Hon Minister Water Resources’s position that their various reports would need to be harmonized into a working document before they take up the matter with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development.
Mallam Bello appreciated Engr. Adamu for the Inter Basin Water transfer from Gurara Dam in Niger State to Lower Usuma Dam in FCT. He also commended the Minister of Water Resources on his efforts to carry out Executive Order 009 and to end Open Defecation in the country.
He said FCT Administration has effectively keyed into the programme to end Open Defecation in Nigeria assured that his Ministry will soon commence the construction of public toilets in all public facilities in the FCT.
The meeting was attended by the Directors of the Ministry, Executive Director (NIWRMC) Engr. Magashi Umar Bashir, Permanent Secretary of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Executive Secretary FCDA and Directors from FCTA.
The actions of the mining company could jeopardize the smooth relationship between the Federal Government and Chinese companies, who have in recent years had smooth relationship with the present Federal Government.
The wading in by NESREA is most commendable, and shows that the Federal Ministries are working together smoothly and liaising to solve problems concerning the citizens of Nigeria.