Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, has cried out over the influx of small arms and light weapons into the state, attributing the illegal mining going on in the state.
Speaking with State House correspondents on Tuesday, shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, the governor alleged that foreign gold poachers are now buying gold from the local people and pay them with arms.
Mr Matawalle said: “Foreign gold poachers enter the state to buy gold and other precious stones and sometimes, instead of paying people (with money), they pay back with arms. I did some investigations.”
He, however, noted that with the recently launched Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, PAGMDI, the state and Federal Government would curb illegal gold mining as well as the security implications.
“I came to brief him about the so many issues that are worrying my state, particularly the issue of illegal mining that is taking place every day.
“Like three days ago, we discovered large deposit of gold in a part of our state, where the locals are trooping to in thousands to do illegal mining.
“So, I came to seek his advice on how best we are going to tackle the issue of illegal mining, which we discussed and he gave me all the support and in a few days, people of Zamfara will see a lot of changes, especially in the mining sector.
“First, we want to strengthen local miners, identify them and make them form something like a Cooperative Society so that they can be benefiting from mining. The President understood our plight and we now have PAGMDI. It is already operational in some states.
“Zamfara State is going to benefit from this PAGMI programme very soon. When I go back, we will set up a committee on PAGMDI so that they can go round and the government and CBN will be buying from us directly.
“It is better they are selling it very cheap in the mining areas, the federal government, CBN and state can come in and be buying from this small scale miners
“It is very important to us as a government, particularly the issue of insecurity, to know the root cause of insecurity. Zamfara state is blessed with many minerals resources.
“So the state government will be buying some of these minerals so that we can block that chain. So now that the state government is engaging the miners, we will be buying some of this gold from them with the limited resources we have.”