The Miners Association of Nigeria has urged the Osun State Government to transfer the 17 Chinese nationals arrested for illegal mining to the Federal Government for prosecution.
The Osun State Government had on May 3 announced the arrest of about 27 illegal miners, including 17 Chinese.
The Federal Government had initiated plans to prosecute the suspects but it was gathered they were still in the custody of the Osun State Government and had not been handed over to the police.
The President of MAN, Alhaji Kabir Mohammed, stated that the offence committed by the Chinese was a Federal matter which should be handled by the Federal Government.
Mohammed said, “We demand that the Chinese should be released to the Federal Government for prosecution because this is a Federal Government affair.
“Solid mineral is under the exclusive right of the Federal Government; it is under the purview of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
“It doesn’t mean because they (Osun State Government) caught them that they should not hand them over. We demand they hand them over to the ministry for prosecution, it is not a state affair.”
Mohammed remarked that the situation in Osun showed that influential and highly placed Nigerians in seats of authority had been sponsoring illegal mining activities in the country.
He also demanded the prosecution of prominent Nigerian sponsors of the illegal miners.
“All Nigerians collaborating with the illegal miners should also be prosecuted, not just the Chinese alone. All those involved should be prosecuted.
“I am in support of what the minister said, that they should be prosecuted according to the law. We cannot just fold our hands and allow foreigners to come and loot our commonwealth and our treasures and get away with it,” he added.