Residents of Ikimo and Ijana in Ijesha land, Osun State have cried out to the federal and state governments to urgently intervene and halt continuous mining activities that have been causing environmental degradation and economic hardship in their locality.
SaharaReporters recently reported that water bodies in the state had been highly contaminated with mercury, lead and cyanide as a result of illegal mining activities going on in parts of the state, putting the health of residents at risk.
During a visit to the state to investigate the extent of the damage done, not only to the farmland of residents but also to their water source through pollution, the residents blamed the government of the state for failing to take action to stop the illegal miners despite numerous promises.
According to the residents, miners, mostly experts from China, enter their farmlands in search of gold and other mineral resources.
Narrating the ordeals that residents of the communities have been going through, a monarch, Oba Ojo Babatunde Peter, Onikimo of Ikimo Ijesa, explained that when mining activities are completed, the law stipulates that dug portions of the land should be covered.
He, however, said that has not been applicable in mining sites in his community, thereby grossly affecting the area.
Speaking for some of the affected communities, the monarch explained that mining activities were done on a license (a land already approved for mining by the government) located on the major road linking Idoka, Ikimo and Ijana, which left a deep pit that has made it difficult for commuters to use the road.
“In the late 2020 up to early 2021, mining activities were done on the major road linking three communities together. When they finished, they didn’t cover the pit that was dug. Since then, that road has been bad. Vehicles cannot ply the road; people cannot take that route to the farm and it has been extremely horrible.
“To our surprise, another company using the approved license of Sandplex International is currently operating under the same license to mine gold. If that gold mining should continue, it would be of extreme danger to the community,” he said.
Buttressing how detrimental the mining activity could be, the monarch mentioned that the mining site is directly beneath a powerline, noting that there shouldn’t be any mining activity in such a place because of the high volatility level.
“The company has channelled water to pass under the powerline, and we know how dangerous this is. It would be worse if they start digging the same portion of land that has been dug previously.
“I am surprised that the government could give approval for mining to take place in such a location. I even reported to the Mining Cadastral Office in Osogbo, an environmental officer came to inspect and said they would look into it but nothing has happened since,” he added.
He appealed to the government to take action to nip the issue in the bud.
Also complaining about the mining activities, a resident of a neighbouring community who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that if mining activities should continue, it would cause a lot of damage.
She noted that some illegal mining was previously done where an electricity pole was affected and the neighbouring community, Iregun had not had electricity since then.
She also called on the government to take action in the interest of the people, noting that the continuous mining has not been of benefit to the locals.
Stakeholders in the state have also urged the Nigerian and Osun State governments to find a lasting solution to the water pollution and hazardous illegal gold mining in the area said to be affecting millions of residents.
They urged the government to take immediate steps to purify the contaminated Osun River and also compensate residents whose lives and livelihoods have been affected by the ongoing mining activities in the state.