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Federal government says state mining regulations unconstitutional

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe

Dr. Oladele Alake, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, stated that states lack the constitutional power to regulate mining activities during a press conference in the lead-up to the Nigerian Mining Week 2023. The conference, marking its 8th edition, is slated to run from Monday through Wednesday.

Emphasizing the point, Alake explained, “Mining falls squarely within the jurisdiction of the Federal Government as stipulated by the Constitution. It’s listed on the exclusive legislative list, which means only the Federal Government has the legal authority over it. By contrast, items on the residual list belong to the states, and both share jurisdiction over the concurrent list.”

Challenging the recent bans imposed by states, he added, “No state has the authority to meddle in mining operations or enact bans. Doing so is equivalent to a state banning oil exploration—it’s simply illegal.”

While the Federal Government isn’t seeking confrontations, Alake expressed an intention to educate states on the constitutional boundaries. He has already initiated discussions with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and several state governors about this.

Recent checks reveal that states like Kebbi, Zamfara, Taraba, and Osun have banned mining. In defense, Kebbi’s Chief Press Secretary, Ahmed Idris, mentioned that the ban aims to regulate and obtain accurate data for improved revenue collection. Likewise, Zamfara cited security concerns for their temporary ban on mining.

Recall in September, Minister Alake issued a 30-day ultimatum to all miners involved in illegal extraction to register with recognized mining cooperatives or face legal repercussions. The deadline has since been extended by another month.

Alake commented, “The ultimatum is not punitive. It’s to aid miners in formalizing their operations for better governmental interaction and fostering bankable investments.”

Additionally, the minister cautioned that mining companies breaching community development agreements or neglecting regulations could have their licenses revoked.

A recent report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) disclosed poor compliance among mining companies regarding mandatory social payments to host communities. The report also noted that only about 41% of these companies adhered to environmental standards.

In light of this, NEITI recommended that the Ministry of Solid Minerals and the Mining Cadastre Office establish a monitoring framework to ensure compliance with the Mineral and Mining Act 2007 and the Minerals and Mining Regulations, 2011. Non-compliance should be met with penalties and stringent implementation.

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