By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

The Renevlyn Development Initiative (RDI) has described the failure of the Niger State Government to mobilize to the site of the 3 June 2024 mine collapse in Shiroro Local Government Area to recover the bodies of victims as abdication of responsibility and clear disdain for the lives of citizens of the state.
 
The RDI frowned at the fact that nearly three weeks after the incident which was allegedly caused by heavy downpour, the bodies of the victims are yet to be recovered, and the state government has kept sealed lips on the matter.

Community sources told RDI during a field visit to Galadima-Kogo that contrary to the claim by the state Niger State Emergency Management Agency that 30 people were trapped, seven rescued and one person confirmed dead, the number of people trapped in the pit were more than 50. They maintained that only six people survived the disaster and escaped on their own and not through any effort of the agency.

They also wondered why the state government has not sanctioned the company – Jurassic Mines Limited – for operating the mines even when a ban on mining activities in the state was in force.

In a statement shared with newsmen, RDI described the growing incident of mine collapse as another phase in the saga over solid mineral extraction in the country which has been plagued by despoliation of the environment, child labour issues, reported sex slaves trafficking and clear lack of proper oversight to ensure safety of people and the environment near mining operations.

RDI Executive Director, Philip Jakpor said:
“The revelation by the locals that the Niger state government abandoned efforts to recover the bodies of victims is very disheartening. It would seem the state government is comfortable at merely representing the dead as insignificant figures but these were promising young men and children who took to artisan mining because they were not privileged to get decent jobs or go to school. This development is pure insensitivity to the plight of the victims and their families”
 
Jakpor maintained that the failure of the state government in carrying out its statutory oversight function of enforcing the ban on mining is the reason why the firm involved was still mining which has cost the lives of citizens of the state.

“How come the company was able to carry on business as usual even when a ban was in force? The state government should take full responsibility for these disasters and address the genuine grievances of the local people who have been abandoned to their fate”

“The disturbing report that the firm even engaged children in mining activities in contravention of local and international laws that forbid it is enough reason for a thorough investigation and sanction to be meted on it.
 
Jakpor revealed that the community people had compiled a list of some of the missing young miners who he said, are not just figures. They include Abdullahi Yahaya, Ibrahim Mansir, Abubakar Isah, Friday Musa. Godwin Hussaini, Benjamin Ashafa, Zayyanu Ibrahim, Abdul Ali and Hamza Musa. Others are Umar Abubakar, Joseph Madaki, Ibrahim I, Ishiaku Kuta, Abbas Musa, and Yakubu Mamman.

The RDI urged the state government to immediately engage expert companies with the right excavators to trace and dig out the bodies of the remaining trapped miners to help the families put a closure to their apprehension and agony.

Other demands are the need for adequate compensation for families of victims and free treatment for survivors including trauma treatment, a comprehensive audit of the environment in Galadima-Kogo in Shiroro Local Government Area and enforcing compliance with Nigeria’s Mineral and Mining Act 2007 which stipulates that no reconnaissance activity shall be carried out and no mineral title shall be granted under the Act over any area that is designated as closed to mining, among others.

“The silence of the Niger State government on this matter is unacceptable. The dead are human beings and not mere chickens that can be thrown away and forgotten, We demand immediate steps to recover the bodies still trapped under the rubble in Galadima-Kogo”, he insisted.

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