Okobo community laments, over effects of coal mining on indigenes

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By Chuks NZEH
Okobo, Okpiko, community of Enjema in,
Ankpa, Local Government Area of Kogi
state, host community to Eta Zuma, coal
mining sites, has lamented over the effects
of coal mining activities on the lives of the
people.
The community leader, Mallam Aminu
Abubakar, made this known at a tour of the
community initiated by Global Rights, an
international non-governmental,
organisation, that advocates for the social
rights of citizens, especially host
communities to mining sites. Other
stakeholders, that participated in the tour
include representatives from government,
journalists and civil society
organizations.
The community leader, said the stream
where indigenes used to fetch
drinking water from, has been
contaminated by metallic substance which
makes it harmful to their health, due to the
activities of the miners, that they rely on
rainfall and sachet water to survive,
insisting that the community has not
benefited much from the miners and
government as should be the case.
Abubakar said that the community does
not have a health care centre, which the
miners should have provided, the general
hospital closest to them in Ankpa, takes
about 45 minutes’ drive from the
community.
He further noted that erosion is eating into
the community and their children are only
employed as labourers, to the miners,
calling on government to intervene.
Abubakar also noted that the youth leader
of the community, Ibrahim Idris was shot
recently and has lost an eye, alleging that it
was agents of the miners that attacked the
young man, and some suspects have been
arrested, and investigations are ongoing
by the police.
The Secretary of the Community Arome
Hudu, who quoted salient sections
of Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act to
buttress their point noted that The only
thing the miners have done for community,
was to rebuild 3 classrooms for primary
school, when the previous one they had,
collapsed and killed a pupil, due to the
vibration from the mining, “outside that
they have not done anything for the
community.
They use our youth as cheap Labour, We
need bore hole to pump water for us and
hospital to look after us, because the dust
and vibration from the mining is too much.”
Speaking on the subject matter, the leader
of delegation Tsema Okoye, a programme
officer, with Global Rights, said the aim of
the host community study tour was to give
stakeholders an insight to the
consequences of coal mining, especially on
host communities, with Okobo, as a
reference point.
She noted that Nigeria is embracing coal
mining when it is being phased out by
developed countries because of the
hazards it causes to humanity.
According to a publication by Global Rights,
titled “Power at what cost?” it noted that in
2012 the Chairman of the Eta Zuma
mining company, stated
that “the mines had provided 300 direct
jobs with a projection of raising it to 5,000
in 2 years.”
Appalled lled by the conditions of people
both
representatives of Federal Government,
Gabriel Yakubu, an Assistant director, at
the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Lanre
Akinsola, a Special Adviser, on Policy and
Legal matters, to the Minister of Power,
Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola,
respectively, agreed to ensure that actions
are taken to ameliorate the plight of the
community, as soon as possible.

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