From Tony Osauzo, Benin
Four suspects allegedly involved in illegal mining of gold in Dangbala community of Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State have been arrested and detained at the state Police Command in Benin City.
The suspects were reportedly apprehended by local vigilantes operating in the community, and handed over to the police.
Mr. Peter Adelabu Kokumo and some members of the community were attacked and injured last week, at Oketegbe mining site by the illegal miners who were alleged to have the backing of some community elders.
Speaking to journalists in Benin City on the arrest, spokesman of the community, Collins Nicholas, demanded the prosecution of the suspects.
He said those behind the illegal mining in the community had also resorted to frivolous petition writing against those opposed to their criminal activities to mislead the public and, therefore, called on the police authority to unmask them.
“Presently, illegal mining still strives in my community day and night. Those benefiting boasted that they are untouchable.
“Even when local security (vigilante) came, they prevented them from gaining access to the site. Secondly, they are using the name of our traditional head to write petitions against those opposed to them in Dangbala.
“This is a traditional ruler that is bedridden and can’t even talk nor make decisions.
“On the 10th of November, 2021, we were invited to the state CID on allegation of threat to life and breach of peace, but to our dismay the said petitioners couldn’t show up. We are demanding that the petitioners should be produced.
“Even when the police visited the community they discovered that our traditional head was bedridden.
“It was at that point they now asked us to go and settle, and that was when they brought hundreds of illegal miners that invaded our community.
“Those faceless petition writers are the ones destroying Dangbala because as I speak, there are guns and dangerous weapons in the community and our people are no longer safe.
“We are calling on all well meaning Akoko-Edo people world over to speak out against this invasion and the wanton stealing of our God’s given resources.
“Those already arrested should be prosecuted because we want peace and development,” Nicholas added.
The Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Security matters, Haruna Yusuf, when contacted, also confirmed the arrest of four miners and said that the matter was being handled by the police command in Benin.