Security chiefs suspend mining activities in Jos

Kingsley Chukwuka, Jos
The face-off between miners from the communities of Jos South and Bassa Local Government Areas in Plateau State that resulted in the death of 10 persons, has ignited the wrath of security chiefs in Plateau State who have placed a temporary ban on mining activity within the said area.
Speaking with newsmen at the Special Task Force Headquarters (STF), in Jos, yesterday where the task-force held a town hall meeting with stakeholders of the warring communities,  the force commander, Major-Gen Rogers Nicholas stated that the miners were illegal, a trend that has been on for a longtime.
According to him, “conflict ensued among illegal miners which led them to take up arms among themselves leading to the death of 10 persons and as a result communities began to take sides along ethnic line; it is however, purely an illegal miners clash and has nothing to do with ethnicity or religion.
Consequently, the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Peter Babatunde Ogunyanwo, reiterated the ban, adding that the ban will be lifted only when all issues have been resolved, saying that the security agencies will not allow illegal miners to thrive in the state.
He appealed to the citizens to stop taking laws into their hands, emphasizing that the Police remain an avenue for resolving conflicts.
On his part, the LG chairman Jos South,  Augustine Pwakim Choji, said various tribes in Jos South and Bassa communities were involved in the fall-out but could not ascertain the cause of the crisis.  
He said however they were at the force headquarters to fashion out ways in bringing a lasting solution to the ugly incident.
Also responding, the Secretary, Bassa LGA,  Joseph Agunadi narrated that the crisis ensued when one of the miners felt cheated and accused his colleague, which eventually resulted in a fight that escalated between the two communities.
He said houses were burnt including a company sighted within the mining site, adding that if not for the intervention of the task-force, more damages would have been recorded.    
Our correspondent reports that the dispute that turned violent between illegal miners from Peter Gyel in Jos South and Miango in Bassa LGA’s also led to the arrest of nine suspects and seizure of 13 rifles from the suspects, during clearance operations at Pasho Village in Bassa.
The STF Commander also stated that the suspects ganged up to attack Kwasho Village in Bassa and were arrested with 13 rifles linked  to a General Purpose Machine Gun (GMPG), ammunition, an oiling kit, automatic weapons, Indian hemp and other illicit drugs.
Among the people arrested included a gang leader wearing a military uniform and carrying armory machine gun and another wearing bullet proof jacket.