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How Chinese are plundering Nigerian minerals

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Chinese miners' finances instability to extort mineral resources.

The Times, a major British newspaper, revealed that Chinese mining personnel are funding terrorist organizations in order to obtain access to Nigeria’s mineral wealth in certain regions. The investigation, which was published on April 15, in the national newspaper, made the discovery. The Times claims that Chinese nationals are encouraging instability and terrorism through their corrupt business practices, lobbying efforts, and bribery. According to the report, Beijing may be indirectly financing terror in the country.

Also, some Chinese people working illegally as miners in Zamfara reportedly operate as smugglers for some terrorist organizations in the state and other areas in northwestern Nigeria. Constant negotiations between Chinese businesses and terrorists and outlaws were cited. There have been reports of corporations making security deals with rebels in areas where assaults are common. In recent years, attacks on China’s estimated 100,000-200,000 people living in Nigeria have been commonplace due to the country’s numerous conflicts.

Terrorists now have close relationships with some Chinese miners.

SBM Intelligence, an analytics firm based in Nigeria, provided research to The Times showing footage posted on social media, including WhatsApp, where militant commanders brag about their power and demand “rent” from Chinese workers who wish to operate in their territories. The northwest of Nigeria is now the most violent area of the country due to their takeover of large portions of the country. Researchers discovered that in one region of Zamfara, terrorists have such a close relationship with Chinese miners that they use militants as runners to control gold digging across the nation. The country is home to some of the world’s greatest gold reserves.

They operate informally in teams as contractors licensed to clearing-house businesses; they understand indigenous languages and may remain for years at a time in distant places that Western companies deem off-limits, and they do all of this without much oversight from the clearing-house companies. They are also frequently caught smuggling minerals out of the nation illegally. The research also emphasized that local workers in the mining industry were underpaid by Chinese contractors. They were also accused of maltreatment while paying extremely low wages.

Osun State and others take steps to curb illegal mining.

The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) had previously reported its findings in a two-part study on the operations of illegal gold mining in Osun and Ondo states. The investigations shed light on the detrimental effects of illicit mining on both the natural environment and community health. According to the reports, the native authorities and the traditional rulers were working together with the illegal miners to cover their tracks. In addition, the ICIR claimed that Kogi and Osun states had prohibited illegal mining operations on their respective borders.

Furthermore, the two state governors have re-affirmed their dedication to putting a stop to all unlawful mining in their jurisdictions while citing the detrimental consequences it has on locals’ quality of life. The governments of the two states issued an appeal to lawful miners, whose activities are believed to be contributing to environmental deterioration and water pollution in the states, to immediately stop their activities and work towards mitigating the effects of the situation on the environment.

Some perpetrators were apprehended in illegal processes.

Also, some Chinese nationals were arrested while attempting to smuggle mineral riches out of the country through unlawful ways. In 2020, Osun State apprehended 27 miners, 17 of whom were reportedly Chinese. In October of last year, 29-year-old Chinese national Gang Deng was sentenced to five years in prison after being found in possession of 25 tonnes of a mineral believed to be lepidolite, which contains lithium, a key ingredient in batteries. As another example of their involvement in the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria, SBM discovered a case of a Chinese smuggler being paid to assist a jihadist group in smuggling metal ore out of the nation.

Related Link

SBMIntel: Website

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