The Federal Government yesterday banned mining in Zamfara state and environs, citing rising cases of armed banditry in the state.
The acting Inspector General of Police, (IGP), Mohammed Adamu made the announcement, after a security meeting, held at office of the Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari.
Briefing State House Correspondents, Adamu said all mining activities should stop within 48 hours.
He said all sites in the state would be taken over by a special Task Force, comprising relevant security agencies.
The police boss said intelligence report had shown that there was connection between armed banditry in the state and mining.
He said the suspension was part of sustained efforts to flush out and put an end to armed banditry and criminality in Zamfara State in particular and the North West in general.
"The Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with the Nigerian Military and other Security Services has commenced "Operation PUFF- ADDER" which is a full scale security offensive against the bandits.
"The operation is aimed at reclaiming every public space under the control of the bandits, arrest and bring to book all perpetrators of violence in the area and their collaborators, achieve a total destruction of all criminal camps and hideouts, mop up all illicit weapons fueling the violence and attain a full restoration of law and order in the affected communities," he said.
He said their commitment at protecting the sanctity of life and property was irrevocable, and that they will not scale-down the pressure on the armed bandits until they are totally flushed-out.
"Meanwhile, in the face of intelligence report that has clearly established a strong and glaring nexus between the activities of armed bandits and illicit miners -with both mutually re-enforcing each other, the Federal Government of Nigeria has directed as follows:
"Mining activities in Zamfara and other affected States are hereby suspended with immediate effect. Consequently, any mining operator who engages in mining activities in the affected locations henceforth will have his licence revoked.
"All foreigners operating in the mining fields should close and leave within 48hours. We want to assure the general public, especially in the affected areas that the security services are doing their best to address the situation," he said.
He solicited for the cooperation of the local communities, especially the traditional and religious leaders within the community.
Lamenting the use of social media to spread fake news, falsehood and deliberate misinformation, the police boss urged citizens to exercise restraint in circulating unconfirmed information,"capable of doing more damage to us all. Let us not allow the social media to hijack our sense of judgment and capture our minds negatively."