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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

I Only Came Out to Know What Was Happening, and They Arrested Me Too — Man Claims, As Anambra Govt Arrests 30 Suspected Illegal Miners

 

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

A man, identified as Mr. Godswill Ezeolisa has raised an alarm over alleged mistaken arrest by the Anambra State Government.

This is coming as the state government arrested over 30 suspected illegal sand miners in Oko, Orumba North Local Government Area, and in Ukpo, Dunukofia Local Government Area.

Recall that the Anambra State Government had recently issued an order banning illegal sand mining at different parts of the State, citing environmental related reasons among other. The government, in enforcement of the ban, on Wednesday, raked some mining sites in Oko and Ukpo, where no fewer than 30 suspected miners were arrested.

 

Howbeit, speaking in an interview with newsmen, Mr. Ezeolisa, who was one of the arrested suspects, claimed that he was not among the miners, nor had anything to do with sand mining. He explained that he heard noise at the site and decided to go there to see what was happening, because he lives nearby; and upon getting there, got arrested as one of the miners, by the security operatives who came to arrest the suspects.

Similarly, in separate interviews, two other persons among the arrested suspects, Mr. Emeka Kingsley and Mr. Ebele Onwuaso also shared the same narrative with Ezeolisa, saying they also came to the site when they heard noise, as concern citizens, and then also got mistakenly arrested parts of the suspects. They further sought to be freed, as they are not guilty of the offence for which they were arrested.

On the other hand, some other suspects, including Chinonso Udo from Nimo and Chizoba Okonkwo from Eziowelle, pleaded guilty and said that they were not aware of the state government’s ban on illegal mining activities in the state.

Earlier speaking on the arrest, the Managing Director, Operation Clean And Healthy Anambra (OCHA Brigade) Comrade Celestine Anere, who led the team to the enforcement explained the sealing of the unapproved sites and the arrest the illegal miners was aimed at saving the environment, as the state is speedily losing more lands to erosion as a result of illegal sand mining and other activities.

According to him, irregularities and unauthorized mining activities at any excavation will no longer be tolerated in the state, as the state government has a well-established procedure for licensing mining activities on the shoreline to ensure that requirements that make for a livable and sustainable built environment are met; as well as to curtail the destructive impacts of the activities of the sand miners on the environment and the newly constructed road and bridges across the state.

Concerning the arrested suspects, Comrade Anara, who said the enforcement team also seized three tippers seen at the sites, further explained that the suspects’ identities would be documented, after which they will be handed over to appropriate authorities for prosecution.

He further warned other people who indulge in such unauthorized and illegal activities to desist forthwith or full weight of the law.

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