The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Mohammed Bello, says one Hongao Mining Company Limited has polluted a source of water to at least six communities in the territory.
The minister made the statement during a visit to the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, on Tuesday, the company, which has no mining lease, acted against Nigeria’s mining policy.
He said the company operates with the water from a stream in Kutasa in Karshi area of the FCT while being protected by officers of the Nigerian police force.
“The stream is the only water source for at least six communities in the area. The villagers, mostly farmers, said some of them drink from it.
“A laboratory analysis carried out on the water confirmed that it is highly turbid and unfit for drinking.
“An analysis done at the FCT water board, Okobi O. Y. who signed the report on behalf of the general manager, said the ‘physio-chemical analysis shows high levels of turbidity, nitrate and iron’ and that ‘water may need further treatment’.”
A director at Hongao, Austine Akpuma, in an interview with TheCable admitted the company was using the water in washing excavated stones.
He, however, gave security challenge as an excuse for not providing a borehole since they started operation in 2019.
The spokesman of the ministry of water resources, Kenechukwu Offie, said in a statement that the two ministers and officials of the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission, NIWRMC, met in Abuja to discuss the development.
He said the FCT minister, “noted with dismay that the company undertaking the mining activities in Kutasa Community was not granted lease to mine gold in that Community”.
On his part, Mr Adamu told the session that he directed the NIWRMC to investigate the matter after he learnt of the development.
The statement read: “The outcome of the investigation revealed that ‘Gold’ mining activities were taking place in that Community.
“Engr. Adamu said that the report from Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission indicated ‘a red flag’ to us that must not be allowed to fly further.
“Engr. Adamu, therefore, reiterated that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources will not allow the experience of Niger State where people died of lead poisoning to repeat itself in FCT.
“The FCT Minister corroborated the Hon. Minister of Water Resources’s position that their various reports would need to be harmonised into a working document before they take up the matter with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development.”
On its part, the NIWRMC vowed to ensure that Hongao Mining Company Ltd provides an alternative water supply for the community after indicting the company for water pollution.
The NIWRMC executive director, Magashi Bashir, said: “For us, in terms of integrated water resources management, a polluter pays.
“They have to go and clean that river or they pay for the cleaning of that river to come back to its original state. They have committed something and they are liable to it.”