The Federal Government through the Ministry of Solid Development Minerals has secured the services of 2,220 security personnel under a new security architecture with the mandate to smoke out illegal miners and all those who flout the nation’s mining laws.

It also charged the new operatives to stem theft and all nefarious activities around the nation’s mineral resources to enable the nation to reap maximum benefits from its God-given resources.

The Minister of Solid Mineral Development, Dele Alake, gave this charge when he received the specially trained officers drafted from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps code-named “Mining Marshal Corps” at the ministry’s headquarters on Thursday in Abuja.

This latest development came two months after President Bola Tinubu established an inter-ministerial committee led by the Solid Minerals minister to deliberate on modalities in achieving its mandate of producing a blueprint for securing the country’s natural resources including solid minerals, forests, and marine economy.

With a command structure spread across the 36 states and the FCT, the mining marshals will have their command and control domiciled in the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development, with  60 operatives first deployed in each state of the federation and the FCT.

According to him, the official reception of the marshals will ensure security at mining sites, eliminate illegality, and sanitise mining environments to counter illegal mining and smuggling of solid minerals from Nigeria. He described this as a major success in his seven-point agenda.

He added that the mining marshals devised to be an inter-agency security outfit will incorporate special operatives from other security agencies like the Nigeria Police, army, amongst others.

Speaking during the event, Alake said, “Insecurity has bedevilled the mineral sector of this economy and it has combined with other variables to short-change revenue generation. So amongst others, the issue of combating insecurity in this sector is very crucial if we are going to record any success. Without the security of the operating environment in the mineral sector, you can’t even talk of increasing the revenue yield. We hope and believe that the minerals will become the revenue saver of the Nigerian economy and we are pursuing the goal of making the mineral sector contribute more than 50 per cent to the gross domestic product and that is our long-term objective.

“Today’s event of launching and formally handing over the civil defence structure to engage illegal miners and sanitise our mining environment was also part of what we conceived at the inter-ministerial committee. I am very happy to let the public know that we did say at the onset that we are going to tackle insecurity and the first batch of the security apparatus that we are using in this sector is what we are launching here today. The civil defence structure already existed before and we thought that amongst other logistic support that are necessary for the takeoff of the new security architecture for this sector.

“And then in terms of the numbers, we are starting initially with 60 personnel per command. But that is just for the takeoff phase. I have also mentioned that other security agencies will come on board very soon. So the number is going to keep increasing as the need arises. But because we needed to fast track the execution of this policy that’s why this civil defence structure had to be used to execute the mines marshals.”

In his remarks, NSCDC Commandant-General, Abubakar Audi, stated that the new mining marshals would give verve to the corps’ mandate of protecting national assets and infrastructure in which solid minerals are a major component.

Audi revealed that the marshals would liaise with mines inspectorate in states to garner intelligence and will directly and operationally be under the command of the solid minerals minister for the effective execution of its mandate.

“We have a list of illegal miners across the nation, and we will go after them. Their days are now numbered, “Audi declared.

The Chairman, House Committee on Solid Minerals, Hon. Jonathan Gbefwi, who graced the occasion, expressed satisfaction with the new security outfit, noting that with improved security around mining areas, Nigeria’s economic fortunes is bound for a forward leap.

“When the minister reeled out his 7-point agenda during his inaugural address, which included the Mines Police, not a few people were sceptical about it. But today, he has matched words with action. On behalf of the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I doff my hat for him and say, “Well done.” You can be rest assured of the continued support and cooperation of the House of Reps and, by extension, the National Assembly, Hon. Gbefwi said.

The new Mines Marshal is led by a Commander, Chief Superintendent of Corps, CSC Attah John Onoja.