By Hafiz Aliyu
Two soldiers of the Nigerian Army and seven illegal miners have died after clash over huge gold nuggets at Magama, a border village in Jibiya Local Government Area of Katsina State.
DAILY NIGERIAN exclusively reports that the clash occurred on Wednesday around 6pm after discovery of huge gold nuggets in one of the open-pit mines dug by the artisanal miners.
Numbering about 40, the illegal miners, who were also armed, paid the soldiers the sum of N500,000 per pit before they were allowed to start the mining.
“When the soldiers saw the huge nuggets the miners discovered, they insisted that it be shared equally with them,” an insider who survived the clash said.
“When the miners insisted that they will not part with the nuggets or pay more — apart from the N2.5million they paid for the five pits — the soldiers started shooting the air.
“The scared miners, 27 of whom had guns, also replied the fire, and then exchange of direct gunfire began. The soldiers lost two men, while miners lost seven men in the clash.
“The mining ring leaders were able to successfully run away with the nuggets, valued in conservative estimate at N70million, in their vehicle.”
Spokesman for the Nigerian Army, Onyema Nwachukwu, could not be reached for comment at the time of filing this report.
In March last year, President Muhammadu Buhari declared Zamfara State a no-fly-zone and banned all mining activities to check banditry and kidnapping in the state.
Following the federal government’s ban on mining in Zamfara, sources told DAILY NIGERIAN that the activities have now shifted to some parts of Katsina State.
The Nigerian Army has debunked alleged involvement of soldiers during a gun duel, arising from a disagreement over gold nuggets in Magama village in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State.
Nigerian Army reacts
The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to an online publication by Dailynigerian.com of 9th January 2022, alleging that 2 soldiers and 7 illegal miners were killed during a gun duel, arising from a disagreement over gold nuggets in Magama village in Jibia LGA of Katsina State.
According to the publication, the incident occurred when the soldiers turned down an initially agreed offer of 500,000 naira per pit from the miners, but afterwards, turned around to demand more money on discovering the large quantum of gold nuggets found by the illegal miners in one of the pits.
The Nigerian Army wishes to unequivocally state that this story is baseless, unfounded, untrue and a mere figment of the writer’s imagination, aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the Nigerian Army, as no Nigerian soldier was killed, nor involved in any skirmish with illegal miners in Magama village on 5 January 2022.
Contrary to the insinuations peddled by the online medium, Nigerian Army troops deployed in the North West are committed and engrossed in the fight against banditry and other criminalities bedeviling that region. They are not permitted to participate in any form of mining, whether legitimate or illegitimate.
Aside orchestrating disrepute, Fake News as this, have the potential to dampen the morale of the fighting troops, erode their fighting will and undermine the entire operations. This is certainly not what the troops require at this critical time.
The general public are therefore urged to disregard the fake news as it is concocted to denigrate Nigerian Army troops, who are working tirelessly to ensure sanity and peace return to the North west region. We assure the general public of the unrelenting commitment of our troops to decisively tackle the banditry menace in the North West.
Director Army Public Relations
9 January 2022
DAILY NIGERIAN stands by its story
Despite the fact that illegal mining with collaboration of Nigerian security agencies is common in Nigeria, we nevertheless verified the story from multiple sources before publishing.
Following the reaction of the Nigerian Army, DAILY NIGERIAN further debriefed its sources, who reiterated that the bloody clash that lead to the death of two soldiers and seven illegal miners actually occurred last Wednesday.
Our sources, who were among the arsenal miners that survived the gun battle, spoke to our reporter on the condition of anonymity.
The sources went further to reveal the identities of their colleagues who lost their lives as Abdulganiyu Isyaku, Fahad Shamaki, Muntari Kwalo-kwalo and Ismaila Danbirni.
Others, who they only knew by their first names, are Isyaka, Sabiu and Kasimu.