CSOs Demand Immediate Cessation of Illegal Mining Activities in Cross River National Park Oban Sector Forest

0
160
Reading Time: 3 minutes

…Civil Society Organizations Call for Action Against Mining in Protected Areas

 

In a joint press briefing held on Monday, September 4th, 2023, in Calabar, two prominent civil society organizations, “We the People” and “Development Concern” (DEVCON), raised serious concerns about illegal mining activities taking place within the Cross River National Park Oban Sector Forest. The press briefing was organized to address the unauthorized mining operations conducted by Abdulrasaq & Co Int’l Mining Limited and Vintage Mining and Exploration Limited within the confines of the National Park NEGROIDHAVEN can report.

Before delving into the demands made by the CSOs, the spokesperson for the organizations provided a comprehensive background to highlight the gravity of the situation. They underscored the legal framework that categorically designates national parks as sanctuaries dedicated exclusively to the conservation of vegetation and wildlife. Citing the National Park Service Act (2006), they pointed out that Section 22 emphasizes the primary functions of National Parks’ Management Committees, which is to protect and manage these vital ecological assets.

Furthermore, Section 29 of the Act criminalizes unauthorized entry into the National Park without the permission of the Conservator General.

Highlighting the severity of the situation, the CSOs referred to Section 51 of the Act, which empowers the National Park Service to establish management principles and conditions for entry, as well as prohibitions on certain activities, including mining and excavation. They argued that these legal provisions unequivocally prohibit any form of mining within the National Park.

The Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act (2007) was also cited to emphasize that it prohibits mining activities in areas under the jurisdiction of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments Act or the National Parks Service Act.

The joint press briefing raised several critical demands:

Immediate Withdrawal of the Mining Lease: The CSOs urgently called for the revocation of the mining lease granted to Abdulrasaq & Co Int’l Mining Limited and Vintage Mining and Exploration Limited within Cross River National Park Oban Sector Forest. This action is crucial to halt ongoing mining activities and prevent further ecological degradation.

Immediate Vacation of Mining Sites: Relevant security agencies were urged to take immediate steps to vacate mining operatives from the mining sites.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): The CSOs called for an independent and thorough Environmental Impact Assessment to be conducted on the affected area. This assessment would determine the extent of damage already caused by mining activities and provide the basis for appropriate remediation measures.

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 would serve as a deterrent against future violations and emphasize the importance of adherence to legal protocols.

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 may involve revisiting and refining the coordination protocols between relevant ministries.

Community Engagement: The CSOs stressed the active engagement of local communities surrounding Cross River National Park Oban Sector Forest in conservation efforts. Their input and cooperation are vital for the effective protection of the park and its sustainable management.

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

Compensation and Remediation: If the Environmental Impact Assessment reveals significant ecological damage, appropriate compensation and remediation measures should be undertaken. This would contribute to the restoration of the affected ecosystem as much as possible.

The CSOs reiterated their commitment to environmental conservation and called on relevant authorities to take immediate action to address the critical issue of illegal mining within the Cross River National Park Oban Sector Forest. The demands put forth by “We the People” and “Development Concern” reflect their unwavering dedication to safeguarding Nigeria’s unique and invaluable natural resources.