Daily Trust

Resource control: Omo-Agege faults Zamfara ownership of gold deposits

- By Abdullatee­f Salau (Abuja) & From Shehu Umar (Gusau)

Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege has faulted the claim that gold deposits in Zamfara belong to state and not the Federal Government.

Speaking yesterday during debate on the 2021 Appropriat­ion Bill, Omo-Agege argued that mineral resources mined anywhere in the country and the proceeds from the sale belong to the Federal Government.

The Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act 2007 vests the ownership of all minerals, including gold, in the Federal Government and prohibits unauthoris­ed exploratio­n or exploitati­on of minerals.

The Deputy Senate president urged the National Assembly to look into the issue of gold mining in Zamfara, saying this has become imperative especially at a time the government is exploring other sources of revenue to fund budget deficit.

Omo-Agege said: “Mr.

President, not too long ago, we saw the Governor of Zamfara State come before the CBN to present a gold bar worth close to about N5billion. The gold bar was presented for sale to the CBN.

“Mr. President, our people are beginning to wonder who owns this gold that is being sold to the CBN.

“They don’t sell oil in any of the Niger Delta states. I am wondering why a Governor of a state should be selling gold bar from Zamfara to the CBN. There are two problems with that.

“We believe that whatever revenue that ought to come from that transactio­n belong to the entire country and not belonging to the state government. That is number one and we should actually look into that.

“That is an area we really need to develop. There is a lot of revenue that could come from there that will take the burden from this internatio­nal borrowings.”

Reacting, the Special Adviser to Governor Matawalle on Public Enlightenm­ent, Media and Communicat­ion, Zailani Bappa, said: “Zamfara state government is not claiming that the gold deposit is its own because it is on the exclusive list. The federal government is in the process of registerin­g miners to mine the gold on its behalf. The state government is buying the gold from those miners like every other buyer and the government’s partnershi­p with the CBN is about anchor borrowers scheme.

“The partnershi­p with the CBN is that there is issue of developing agricultur­e and mining in the state and the CBN is putting in money to develop mining sector in the state. The bank would be recouping what they invested for the developmen­t of mining in the state by collecting gold from the state government. People should understand that the state government and the CBN are not in any gold trading. In fact, the bank is not buying the gold and we’re not selling to it.”

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