Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari approved the imposition and enforcement of an indefinite ban of all mining activities in Zamfara State, National Security Adviser Mohammed Babagana Monguno announced on Tuesday.
Monguno said the decision was necessitated by a rise of insecurity in the state and greater northwest region which has seen a surge in violence and hundreds of students being kidnapped by armed gangs in recent weeks.
“His Excellency, the President, has approved, based on our recommendations, the imposition and enforcement of a ban of all mining activities in Zamfara State with immediate effect until further notice,” Monguno said.
Illegal mining is rampant in Nigeria’s northwest region with authorities blaming it for widespread violence. Thousands of people have been killed in the region in recent years and large parts of the region are inaccessible.
Monguno added that Buhari also approved the declaration of the state as a no-fly zone and ordered significant deployment of military and intelligence assets in the state with an aim of restoring order and normalcy.
“All non-state actors that have been causing problems for the innocent peoples, not just in Zamfara State or the northwest zone, but also the northeast and other parts of the country in the south, have been placed under surveillance by the intelligence agencies,” he said.
Monguno said Buhari had directed the nation’s defense chiefs to reclaim all areas in the country dominated by bandits, kidnappers and other criminals.
“We have had a lot of reports coming in (of) collusion with people from all walks of life. Therefore, both the defence and intelligence organizations have been charged…that while we look forward to having a peaceful, non-kinetic resolution, we will not allow this country to drift into state failure.”
Nigeria is facing serious security challenges, particularly in the northern region, which have bedeviled the administration of Buhari.
Banditry, kidnappings and other criminal activities are rampant in some north, northwestern and central regions in Nigeria while an insurgency by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) has plagued the northeast for over a decade.
The security situation in these regions has resulted in the killings of thousands of people, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of others and the destruction of property of unknown value.