Twenty-one illegal miners, including a community leader, and three Chinese nationals have been arrested for illegal mining in Azam village, near Nasarawa, says the Federal Capital Territory Police command.
Josephine Adeh, the FCT police spokesperson said in a statement that charms, refined and unrefined gold, and two gold weigh scales were seized from the suspects.
Additionally, 17 mobile phones, four motorcycles, two Dane guns, shovels, cutlasses, two pumping machines and one generator, substances suspected to be cannabis, and other forms of hard drugs were also seized.
She added that the operation that led to the arrest of the suspects, codenamed: ‘Safe G-7’ followed the menace of kidnapping and banditry in FCT and neighbouring states.
Ms Adeh further mentioned that heads of security agencies in the region had embarked on a massive raid and cleanup operation in all mapped out hideouts, camps, and areas serving as refugees to the miscreants.
“In compliance with the G-7 mandates, on day two of the operation, the JTF continued the patrol of villages sharing boundaries with Nasarawa state.
“Upon the receipt of actionable intelligence, the team stormed a camp at Azam village, where an illegal mining site about 40 minutes walk distance from the said village was discovered.”
She noted that the miners who were said to have established a symbiotic relationship with bandits and kidnappers and reportedly engaged the team in a duel.
“The miners were forced to retreat and subsequently, overpowered by the superior firepower of the JTF,” she said.
Ms Adeh stressed that the majority of the suspects were from the various bordering states and confessed to have enjoyed unfiltered cooperation with the head of the local community who was immediately arrested.
According to her, the three male Chinese nationals arrested in connection to the offence would be handed over to the Nigeria Immigration Service to establish their immigration status in Nigeria, while two suspects linked with the possession of drugs would be handed over to the NDLEA.
She added that the suspects would be arraigned in court upon completion of investigation.