Nelson NseAbasi

Miners Association Of Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State Chapter has filed a suit against the Eket Area Manager of the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, Surveyor Abubakar Wathanafa, for his dastardly act against the operations of their members: Zealand Integrated Services Limited and others.

The leadership of miners in the country, led by Alhaji Musa Muhammad, speaking through the state coordinator of the Association, Mr Iyakise Udofia, confirms that there had been exchange of several correspondences between the Association, the agency and other parties involved, as to how to amicably resolve the complaints with due guidance of the law, but Surv. Wathanafa has made all efforts abortive.

The Managing Director of Zealand Integrated Services, Mr Adedokun Olusegun, had in a letter dated March 7, 2022 written a complaint against Surveyor Abubakar Wathanafa of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) whom he said ‘misused his office to illegally invade their operational dredging site with some unknown boys looking like cultists wielding machets and other dangerous weapons to drive away workers and security guards’.

Mr Olusegun, in his letter, pleaded with the leadership of the Miners Association for urgent intervention on this matter, which had compelled it to take appropriate legal actions.

In a chat with the Association’s coordinator in the state, the group is hereby drawing the attention of the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and its agents to sections 76 and 78 of the Nigerian Minerals & Mining Act 2007 and it’s Regulations 2011, which clearly take mining, quarrying and dredging away from the regulatory oversight of NIWA, by which the Nigerian Mineral & Mining Act (NMMA 2007) takes precedence over NIWA’s Act Cap N47 LFN 2004 and the authority of the agency or any other agencies to charge or demand for levies or fees from any extant mineral title holders.

“This is not the first complaint we have received, neither is it the first time our member has been harrased by Mr Wathanafa, the case is already in court and he has been served. As law abiding corporate and individual citizens who understand the importance of peace to carry out our daily operations, this call is to stakeholders in the Nigerian mining sector and the public to rise up and frown at this unlawful acts crippling the business of our members and mining operations generally.

We are amazed that the State Federal Mines Officer of the Ministry of Mines & Steel Development in Akwa Ibom State seems to have failed in his responsibility to checkmate the illegal usurpation of NIWA and other agencies by protecting the interests of mineral title holders under the oversight functions of his office” Mr. Iyakise said.

It is interesting to know that there had been various court pronouncements and judgements to support the superiority of NMMA 2007 over NIWA Act 2004, including the judgement of December 5, 2014 in the Court of Appeal (Lagos Judicial Division) which is obeyed by other states/area managers, except Mr Abubakar who has failed to adhere to abide by the governing laws, thereby plunging his agency to further litigations and embarrassments.

According to Mr Udofia, ‘a petition had been made to the Akwa Ibom State Police Command, but unfortunately, nothing was done about it, which is prompting Abubakar Wathanafa to continue perpetrating various acts of impunity and boasting of the protective shield of his father-in-law, who is said to be a Major General in the Nigerian Army’.

In conclusion, the Association views the continued onslaught on the mining operations in the state by Mr Abubakar Wathanafa of NIWA as not only inimical to Federal Government economic diversification policy and revenue drive, but also a sabotage against the noble Completion Agenda of Governor Udom Emmanuel, which relies on wrapping up all revenue sources for the massive ongoing construction works across the state.

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