A socio-cultural organization, Ekid People’s Union (EPU) has accused Akwa Ibom state Ministry of Lands and Water Resources of aiding a Chinese company-Ruitai Mining Limited to illegally mine ilmenite on their land; located within the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve.
The union described the action as affront on the people of Eket and expressed displeasure against the manner and style that some agents of government especially in Commissioner’s office have aided the Chinese Company in their illegal mining of ilmenite on their land.
Addressing newsmen Wednesday October 11 in Eket, the National President of Ekid People’s Union Dr. Samuel Udonsak and the National Secretary General, Mkpisong (Bar.) Bassey Dan Abia revealed that for a while they noticed that a Chinese company by name Ruitai Mining Limited has been illegally mining ilmenite on their land; located within the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve (Akoiyak Ekid), which they said is the property of the Ekid people.
They accused the company of carrying out mining activities without the necessary authorization or consent of the community which they affirm was in breach of the extant laws.
“This illegal mining, usually carried out in the night and its product transported out of the state in trucks clandestinely, is alleged to be actively encouraged by certain elements in government.
“As at today, neither the Chinese Company nor their agents in government, has informed the community of this ongoing illegal activity. This action is in complete breach of extant laws.
“This action is clearly against the letter and spirit of our current Mining Act that encourages mining to be carried out in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner.
“As you may have been aware, the Federal Ministry of solid Minerals grants mining license/lease in Nigeria. The grant of mining lease is coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals Development, under the Mining Cadastre Office approving same. The application for a mining lease must strictly comply and conform to the requirements and procedures under the laws that regulate the sector, which includes the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 and the Minerals and Mining Regulations, 2011. Section 57 of the Act provides for the requirements and procedure for a grant of mining license.
“Even though the state government is largely excluded from the entire process or any stage thereof, (except as it affects the environment) they owe us a fiduciary duty of the legal responsibility to act solely in our best interest, instead of conniving with the foreign oppressors against us, thereby destroying our lands and polluting our environment.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that we state as follows:That the said Chinese Company, which was hurriedly packaged and registered on the 13th of September, 2022 is allegedly to be surreptitiously managed by the office of the Hon Commissioner of Lands, with the apparent consent and perhaps the approval of the Akwa Ibom State Government. We hope this is not true.
“That the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve (Akoiyak), is the bona fide property of the Ekid people of Eket and Esit Eket LGAs. And our ownership thereof is supported by immutable historical antecedents and time-hallowed judgments of courts of competent jurisdiction.
“That it is now very obvious that the said Chinese company couldn’t have procured a mining license without the fraudulent connivance of some agents in government and this we say on good authority. “
Ekid People’s Union called on Akwa Ibom State Government to investigate the illegal activities of Ruitai Mining Limited and its collaborators in government and call them to order as well as find ways of ameliorating the already despicable situation.