The Special Mines Surveillance Task Force (SMSTF) of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has clamped down on over 15 dredging companies in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State over unauthorised operations (non-licenced), evasion of royalties.
Two illegal operators were also arrested by the SMSTF during the recently concluded compliance enforcement exercise.
The companies ordered to stop work during the exercise over irregularities included Oji Babs, Mitchel Gabino Nig. Ltd, and Day Dredging Ltd amongst others, while some companies were directed to respond to the taskforce's last memo.
Explaining the motive for the compliance monitoring exercise, the Federal Mines Officer, Lagos State, Engr. Ebere Korie, said the Federal Government was determined to develop the solid minerals sector as an alternative means of revenue generation in the face of the dwindling oil fortunes.
He said, "We have the mandate of the Federal Government to flush out all forms of illegal mining activities in all the states and the FCT. The ongoing exercise is part of that mandate.
"The primary assignment is to ensure that operators work within the purview of the law. To that extent, they must have all the necessary documentations and approvals from the minister, who is in charge. We have been asking the operators to present their licence on site. Some presented, some did not.
"We also have cases of outright illegal operations. We have been tackling the compliance level in terms of royalties. We effected two arrests, one was the case of a self-confessed illegal operator, and the other also into illegal operations."