Chairman, Miners Association of Nigeria, Imo State chapter, Prince Ugochukwu Onyenwenwa, has expressed worry over illegal activities in the mining industry of the state, which, according to him, may cause environmental disaster, if not urgently checked.
He also raised the alarm over alleged threats to his life by some elements, who, he said, are against his determination to sanitise the industry, and reposition it for greater benefit of the state.
Onyenwenwa stated this while reacting to the outcry by leaders of Nekede, Egbeada, Ihiagwa and Irete communities in Owerri West Council of the state, over the situation, which, they said, has not only affected their socio-economic lives, but also claimed the lives of their people.
The Imo MAN’s boss disclosed that the illegal mining activity has also caused serious environmental challenges such as gully erosion and heavy flooding during rains in the affected areas.
He said: “Areas like Umukoto, in Nekede Free Zone, at the back of old mechanics village in Aba road, Egbeada axis, behind Egbeada popular market, Umuezuriokam and Mbuoke, in Ihiagwa, are completely devastated because of illegal mining activities.”
He appealed to the state governor, Hope Uzodimma, and relevant authorities to intervene in the situation to save the state from imminent environmental collapse and continued loss of lives.
Regarding alleged threats to his life, Onyenwenwa urged security agencies to speed up investigation, following his petition on the matter already before them, and arrest perpetrators.
He said: “The outcry by affected communities are expected, because if you observe what is going on there by illegal miners, you will be forced to cry for this state.
“On our own part, we are trying our best to sanitise the industry, which is why some of the people behind the atrocious act are after my life. They want me dead by all means. But God will never allow them.
“The unfortunate aspect of it is that those doing this claim to have the backings of people, who are well placed in the state government, just as the community leaders alleged. They operate under the pretext of generating revenue for government.”