The Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) in Imo State, Com, has arrested some illegal miners and oil bunkerers in some areas of Ehime Mbano, Ohaji Egbema and Owerri North LGAs of Imo State. 

The Imo State Commandant of NSCDC , Matthew Sunday Ovye revealed on Friday 12th April 2024, that officers of the Corps, and Intelligent men of Anti vandars Mills and Steel, in conjunction with Special intelligent squared of the Commandant General from Abuja have been going out on surveillance and made several arrests particularly within the Easter and Sallah celebrations. 

He stated that officers of the Corps arrested a Toyota Avalon car carrying about 800 liters of adulterated Automotive Gas Oil, well packaged in a 25 liter capacity nylon around Owerri North and a short truck conveying approximately 5000 liters of adulterated Automotive Gas Oil, adding that the driver is cooling off in their cell and giving useful information which will assist them to bring the culprits to book. 

He also disclosed that officers of the command went to Agbaja around Ehime Mbano on the April, 11, 2024 and arrested about six trucks of illegal miners who often tamper with government’s installations in the process of excavating the soil. 

The Commandant further emphasized that the Honourable Minister for Mines and Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Oladele Alaki, visited Imo State and gave illegal miners one month window to ensure that their licenses are renewed or obtained, but they refused to obey instructions and some have been arrested and must face the law.

“We went to areas of Ohaji Egbema where we made an arrest involving connected pipe. This pipe is connected to the main pipe where petroleum products flow through. We arrested nine persons with six trucks together with their drivers, and three other people who parade as tax collectors. We were not able to arrest the bunkerers but we will leave no stone unturned until they are arrested. 

“The Commandant General, Dr. Armed Abubukar Audi OFR has given us a marching order, the governor of the state, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who is in support of what we are doing has given us a marching order and of course the father of the nation, His Excellency, Bola Tinubu has given us a marching order. Soon and very soon we will welcome mining marshals in the state and will constitute a team to work with.

“We are encouraging illegal miners to go and obtain their licenses. Bunkerers should stop their illegal activities. We are working assiduously to ensure that saboteurs of government are arrested and brought to book. The intelligent Department of the Command is carrying out careful investigations and the command has series of cases in Court at different levels of completion. We are not relenting”.

Engineer Okandeji Idris, Federal Mines Officer in charge of Imo State who was present at the command, expressed gratitude to the command for their hard work. 

He unequivocally condemned illegal mining.

“We are using this opportunity to tell illegal miners to do the needful because section 146 of mineral and mining act 2007 says “if there’s any suspicion of illegal mining, an officer in charge can arrest without warrant and confiscate whatever the culprits are using for the mining”. We are using this opportunity to tell the tipper chairman in imo State to tell his people to come to us to give them licenses to operate. This illegal miners crash the price of sand because they don’t have any responsibility to the government. They don’t pay royalties to the government. We encounter many challenges with these illegal miners but thank God for the gallant officers of the NSCDC”, he stated. 

Some of the Suspects when interrogated by Newsmen at the Command, confessed that they regretted engaging in such shameful acts due to  economic hardship, while some others maintained that their involvement was accidental and not intentional.