The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, has said the federal government is yet to recover a swooping debt of over N2 trillion from miners and operators in the country.
The minister, represented by the Acting Zonal Mines Officer, North-West Zonal Office, Kutman Hosea Ali, made these remarks while meeting with Licensed Minerals Holders and Laterite/Sand Operators Dealers in Kaduna State on Thursday.
According to Alake, the current administration led by President Tinubu is committed to stopping the operations of illegal miners throughout the country.
“Miners and Operators owed the federal government more than N2 trillion while in Kaduna State, it’s over N300 billion.
“We have made it very clear that in Kaduna State, every operator should make bold steps and clear their debt,” the minister said.
In addition, Alake stated that the purpose of the meeting was to detail the minister’s plans for the mining sector in 2024 and beyond.
He highlighted the importance of reenergizing the Special Mines Surveillance Taskforce (SMSTF) to combat illegal mining and secure the punctual payment of royalties and taxes.
The minister further outlined the structure of the SMSTF, which includes representatives from the Nigerian Army, Police, Civil Defence Corps, DSS, EFCC, and the Nigeria Immigration Service. Mines Officers are designated to lead operations at the state level.
“Let me clarify it, state government and local government are entitled to collect other taxes such as ground rent and other taxes but they are not to collect royalty and tax on mining
“Any state government or any local government that collects money in the name of Royalty or Mineral Tax will be deducted from the source allocated to the State.
“The Special Mines Taskforce has been activated in Kaduna State and they had commenced operation on the war against illegal Mining and nonpayment of royalties which must be paid monthly as well as other taxes to the Government of Nigeria,” Alake added.
On his part, Ado Dogo, Chairman of the Miners Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State, lauded the importance of enhancing communication between miners and regulators to tackle existing challenges.
He, however, lamented interferences by some state governors in mining activities and called for the minister’s intervention to ensure adherence to constitutional jurisdictions.
Also, Mr. Tanimu Abubakar, a former General Manager of the Kaduna State Public Works Agency, expressed apprehension regarding the issue of dual tax collections by both the federal and state governments.
He advocated a waiver of ground rent to attract more investors to the sector.
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Cyrus Ademola is a political and economy analyst with over half a decade experience in journalism, research-based oped, economic reportage and political analysis. His works have been featured on different media outlets, covering from politics to business trends, to crime and security as well as the real estate sector.