By Linda Ike
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has arrested, prosecuted and convicted two persons for illegal possession of minerals (gemstones).
The Duo, Emeka.Ezema and Ye Kachi were arrested on July 6 2022, in Cross Rivers State.
It was gathered that they were found in possession of 300g of Tourmaline without any form of authorisation or license from the ministry as stipulated in sections, 2, 93, 94 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act (NMMA) 2007 and Regulation 133 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Regulation (NMMR) 2011.
The Director Media, Mr. Tony Ekpo who disclosed this in a statement issued on Tuesday August 9, 2022 said that the Ministry in collaboration with the Legal Unit of the Department of State Services, Cross Rivers State arraigned the two suspects in court on Wednesday July 13, 2022.
It was stated that they were charged with:
1. Conspiracy to commit felony to wit: possession of Tourmaline without license under 516 of the criminal code.
2. Unlawful possession of Tourmaline: contrary to section 93 and punishable under section 146(2) of the NMMA 2007.
According to the statement, the two had pleaded guilty to the offences charged against them and were convicted accordingly.
Current news gathered that on Tuesday 26 July, 2022, the court also granted Engr. Mayowa Omosebi, Federal Mines Officer, Cross Rivers state to take possession of the fortified 300g of Tourmaline in accordance with section 246(2) of NMMA 2007.
Mr. Omosebi who has confirmed that the fortified 300g of Tourmaline is in his possession also suggested that the stones be disposed of at the market current value as stipulated in the Ministry’s reviewed rate for minerals which came into effect on May 2, 2022 and that the mineral be auctioned to person who has valid license to purchase and possess minerals.
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development commended the Officer, Engr. Omosebi and Department of State Service for the arrest and conviction of the suspects, saying that the action will serve as a deterrent to others who may wish to go that route in future.
“This is also a good one for the ministry and would serve to show that the ministry actually has the power to convict criminals in the Solid Minerals Sector”, he said.