Failure of Zamfara State government to enforce strict environmental regulation on solid mineral extraction and its disappointing performance in providing basic social amenities and employment to local communities are directly responsible for recent deaths resulting from mining sites and several communities, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has stated.

ERA/FoEN’s assertion is coming on the heels of media reports confirming the Senate’s nod for an investigation into the cause of deaths recorded in Yar Garma and Dareta villages in Bukkuyum and Anka Local Government Area’s respectively but blunt refusal to accede to calls for strict enforcement of provisions of the Mining Act of 2007 to curb unregulated mining. The motion for the investigation and enforcement of the Act was sponsored by Senator Sahabi Yau and 27 other lawmakers. In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN said the decision of the Upper House to investigate the matter is commendable but described as “very suspicious,” the House’s refusal to accede to demands for enforcement of the Mining Act.

"The Senate’s position on this very important law raises some questions. Our lawmakers cannot claim ignorance that the locals are only victims of the activities of a cabal that continues to plunder the nation’s enormous solid mineral deposits in Zamfara and other parts of the country, while blaming the locals for the environmental damage and other negative impacts," said ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey.

Bassey explained that ERA/FoEN’s investigation, which culminated in a visit to the impacted communities confirmed that the 160 deaths quoted by the Upper House when the issue was debated is not correct, even as he revealed that volunteer doctors at the General Hospital in Bukkuyum council, where most of the affected community folks were admitted for treatment confirmed 163 dead children below age five and 85 still undergoing treatment as at mid June.

"The poverty in the impacted communities reflects successive administration’s lip-service to the issue of development. These communities do not have portable drinking water, health centres, good roads or even electricity. The so-called clean up exercise, which the Upper House commended particularly in Yar Garma, is a shoddy exercise because ores still litter the dusty roads."

"There is no better time than now for the Senate to accent to the enforcement of regulations on extraction. The pronouncements on halting unregulated mining, particularly blaming locals for the incident are distraction from the real issue, which is the cover that unenforced laws give to the cabal that mines illegally. The Senate’s aversion to the enforcement of the Act seems calculated to favour trans-national corporations that are the real brains behind illegal mining. The Zamfara State government must also be compelled to compensate the locals and provide social amenities. What currently obtains cannot be accepted. The ground on which the motion for enforcement of the Act was rejected is not tenable," Bassey asserted.

Source: Independent Newspapers, Nigeria

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ERA has recently received information that a group calling itself the "Niger Delta Coalition in the Diaspora" is still engaging itself in activities and communications giving the impression that it is linked with Environmental Rights Action (ERA).

This group issues out communications using ERA's headquarter address and mail box. We have never had any ties with this group and any views, comments or opinions expressed by them is not endorsed or authorized by any member of management or staff of ERA.

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