Breaking: CBN/Zamfara Gold purchase soar as Zamfara Government chides Mr Onu

A human rights lawyer and Activist, Mr. Joseph Onu Silas had written the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) seeking cancelation of the purchase of gold worth 5 billion Naira from Zamfara State government by the bank.

In a letter addressed to the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele,  Mr Onu pointed out that the Central Bank purchasing gold from Zamfara State Government, a state within the Sovereignty of Nigeria is "illegal"  and a waste of "scarce resources", noting that it's a double standard if Gold could be purchased by the Federal Government as a State resource in the North but Crude Oil is a National resource in the Niger Delta region.

Mr Onu pointed out that the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 makes it clear in section 1(1) and (2) that: (1) the entire property in and control of all mineral resources in, under or upon any land in Nigeria, its contiguous continental shelf and all rivers, streams, and watercourses throughout Nigeria, any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone is and shall be vested in the Government of the Federation for and on behalf of the people of Nigeria. (2) All lands in which minerals have been found in commercial quantities shall, from the commencement of this Act be acquired by the Government of the Federation in accordance with the provisions of the Land Use Act.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Zamfara State is one of the States of the federation blessed with abundant solid minerals which are largely being exploited by illegal miners from within and outside the country until the recent take over by the State Government.

Mr Joseph Onu had wondered if the law of the land is such double standard that the Land Decree holds firm in some part of Nigeria but others in some other parts are free to lay claim on their lands against the Federal Decree adding that the Apex bank is tending towards a commercial by initiation such deal.

“I am worried that Central Bank of Nigeria under your leadership is tending towards becoming a commercial bank and even more worrisome is that the Central Bank of Nigeria has acted in total disregard of Nigerian laws and has displayed its penchant to waste scarce public fund in the placement of this illegal gold purchase order” Mr Onu stated.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite has however, yesterday, in Abuja chided the Governor of Zamfara State over claims of ownership of mineral resources in his state, warning that mineral product remain exclusively to the federal government.

“All mineral resources in country is vested in the federal government and that is in the exclusive list and that stays. And the right royalty should be paid to the federal government.

“People feel that some parts of the nation are cornering the wealth of the nation to themselves which belongs to all of us and I will always say this, everybody has partake in the lunch of the Niger Delta’s people, we have taken from the oil and gas and it has been used to develop this country and the mineral wealth of this country will also be used collectively to develop this country and not exclusively by one section,” Adegbite stated.

Zamfara State Government denies claim:

The Media Special Adviser to Governor Bello of Zamfara State,  Zailani Baffa has denied the claims that the Central Bank of Nigeria is trading in gold with Zamfara State Government.

Responding to Mr Joseph Onu Silas, Baffa stated, “The attention of the Zamfara State Government has been drawn to a shocking and disappointing reaction in the media where a known lawyer displayed ignorance of law regarding the recent revelation made by Governor Bello Mohammed ( Matawallen Maradun) over mining in the state."

“The lawyer , Mr Joseph Onu Silas , has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria of violating its constitutional boundaries to trade in gold with the Zamfara State Government. He further accused the state government of claiming to own the gold deposits in the state.”

“The fact is that the CBN , just like in agriculture , is willing to invest in mining, as part of its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme whereby the apex bank will invest an amount for the state government to supply it with the gold as proceeds of the investment. This is aimed at boosting the mining sector in the country which is within the provisions of the scheme,” Baffa stressed.

The Media Special Adviser however noted that the state government is not directly mining the gold by itself.

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