Chinese illegal miners not yet handed over to police (See Here)

Plans by the Federal Government to prosecute 17 Chinese nationals arrested for engaging in illegal mining in Osun State may be frustrated by influential persons allegedly shielding the suspects.

A source in the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development informed Newsman in Abuja on Thursday that the Chinese had not been released to the police, which is necessary for the Federal Government to commence their prosecution.

The source, who did not wish to be named, said there were concerns that the suspects might be released, and as a result, escape prosecution.

“We learnt that, up till the moment, the Chinese illegal miners have not been handed over to the police.

“If they are not handed over to the police, it will not be possible for the Federal Government to prosecute them and they can be released without anybody knowing what happened.

However, the source also added that; We don’t want that to happen.

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, had last week said the Federal Government was under intense pressure to free the Chinese illegal gold miners.

Vowing to prosecute the Chinese and their accomplices, including Senegalese, Burkinabes and some Nigerians, Adegbite said the Federal Government would not bow to the pressure mounted on it to free the suspects.

According to him, prosecuting the suspects “to the full extent of the law” will serve as a deterrent to other illegal miners as well as their sponsors.

The minister also said the illegal miners were working for “Nigerians in high positions of authority”.

According to him, the unnamed influential Nigerians were mounting pressure for the release of the Chinese and other illegal miners arrested in Osun.

Two other Chinese were also apprehended for engaging in illegal mining in Zamfara State and the Federal Government intends to prosecute them alongside those arrested in Osun.

Osun State Government had on May 3 announced the arrest of about 27 illegal miners, including 17 Chinese.

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