You are currently viewing ILLEGAL MINING ACTIVITIES IN CROSS RIVER NATIONAL PARK OBAN SECTOR FOREST: A DEMAND FOR  IMMEDIATE CESSATION.

ILLEGAL MINING ACTIVITIES IN CROSS RIVER NATIONAL PARK OBAN SECTOR FOREST: A DEMAND FOR IMMEDIATE CESSATION.

Text of Press Briefing 4 th September, 2023.

 

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, you are welcome to this Press Briefing organized by
We the People and Development Concern (DEVCON).

We have recently become aware that the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has granted mining
rights to 2 companies;
 Abdulrasaq & Co Int’l Mining Limited
 And Vintage Mining and Exploration Limited
To carry out mining activities in the area of the National Park against all existing laws and regulations.
Before we proceed, please permit me to provide the following background.

  1. The National Park Service Act (2006) unequivocally underscore that national parks are sanctuaries meant
    exclusively for the propagation, protection, and management of vegetation and wildlife. Notably, Section
    22 of the Act delineates the functions of Management Committees, reinforcing the exclusive dedication
    of national parks to the propagation, protection, and management of vegetation and wildlife.
    Section 29 clearly make an offence for any unauthorized person to go into the National Park without the
    permission of the Conservator General.

The sections reads-

(l) A person who, except in accordance with the provisions of this Act, enters into,
resides, erects a building or camp in a National Park is guilty of an offence.

Except

(e) a person in possession of a permit, issued by the Conservator-General or any other
employee of the Service duly authorised in writing by the Conservator General in that
behalf, allowing the person to enter, reside, erect a building or camp in a National Park.

Furthermore, Section 51 of the Act underscores the regulatory authority of the Service to establish management principles, conditions for entry and residence, prohibitions of certain activities, and even the prohibition or control against cutting, or damaging vegetation. This provision bolsters the argument against any intrusion into the ecological sanctum of the national park, reinforcing the Act's overarching intent of safeguarding the environment.

Mining activities, are explicitly prohibited in Section 30(1) of the Act:

(1) A person who, unless authorised to do so under this Act or the regulations made under this Act'– (m) carries out an undertaking connected with forestry, agriculture, grazing or excavation; or (n) does any levelling of the ground or construction or any act tending to alter the configuration of the soil or the character of the vegetation; or (0) does an act likely to harm or disturb the fauna or flora; or (p) engages in drilling, mining, prospecting or exploration of any kind of natural resources…is guilty of an offence.

Similarly, the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act (2007) which serves as the key legislation on mineral exploration and exploitation in Nigeria also prohibits mining activities in the National Park. Section 3(1)(d) of the Mining Act explicitly bars mineral activities in areas under the purview of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments Act or the National Parks Service Act:

(1) no mineral title granted under this Act shall authorize reconnaissance, exploration or exploitation of mineral resources on, or in, or the erection of beacons on or the occupation of any land —

2.

(d) that is subject to the provisions of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments Act, Cap. N19 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the National Parks Service Act, Cap. N65, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

With these two compelling legislative instruments, each banning mining activities in the National Park, one wonders why mining is currently going on in the Cross River National Park. One also wonders the extent to which the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development responsible for issuing mining rights can rightfully supersede the jurisdiction of the Ministry vested with environmental conservation. The purpose of the National Park Service Act is to ensure ecological preservation, a purpose that fundamentally contradicts any form of mining within its precincts.

In the case of Abdulrasaq & Co Intl Mining Limited and Vingate Mining and Exploration limited, there is no evidence that the two companies were granted any permit to enter the National Park in line with Sections 30 and 51 of the National Park Service Act, talk less of mining in it.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no doubt that permitting mining activities in the National Park will seriously impact the ecosystem and destroy the essence of conservation, while opening the forest to other risks including wildlife hunting and logging. Accordingly, we demand the following;

i. Immediate Withdrawal of the Mining Lease
The most pressing action is the immediate revocation of the mining lease granted to Abdulrasaq & Co Intl Mining Limited and Vintage Mining and Exploration Limited within Cross River National Park Oban Sector Forest. This step is essential to halt any ongoing mining activities and prevent further ecological degradation.

ii. Immediate vacation of mining sites
Relevant security agencies should be moblised to vacate mining operatives from the mining sites

iii. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA):
An independent and thorough Environmental Impact Assessment should be conducted on the affected area. This assessment will determine the extent of damage already caused by the mining activities and provide basis for appropriate remediation measures.

iv. Sanctions Against Responsible Ministry:
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, responsible for granting the mining lease without proper authorization, should face appropriate sanctions for this breach. This will serve as a deterrent against future violations and emphasize the significance of adherence to legal protocols.


v. Strengthening Legal Oversight:
Consideration should be given to enhancing legal oversight mechanisms to prevent potential conflicts between ministries and uphold the sanctity of protected areas. This could involve revisiting and refining the coordination protocols between relevant ministries.

vi. Community Engagement:

3.

Local communities surrounding Cross River National Park Oban Sector Forest should be actively engaged in the conservation efforts. Their input and cooperation are vital for the effective protection of the park and its sustainable management.

vii. Review and Strengthen Regulations:
The Nigerian Minerals and Mining Regulations should be reviewed and strengthened to ensure that there are no ambiguities in granting mining licenses within protected areas. Clear and unambiguous provisions will help prevent future conflicts.

viii. Compensation and Remediation:
If the Environmental Impact Assessment reveals significant ecological damage, appropriate compensation and remediation measures should be undertaken. This will help restore the affected ecosystem to its original state as much as possible.

Signed
Ken Henshaw                                                                Martin Egot
We the People                                                               Development Concern