The House of Representatives on Thursday, resolved to investigate alleged loss of N8 trillion from leakages and illegal mining of gold and other solid mineral resources in the country.
The probe, according to the lawmakers, will be carried out by an ad hoc committee looking at irregularities in the nation’s mining sector in the last five years.
The investigation will cover the efforts of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in curtailing and tracking the movement of minerals within and outside the country.
The resolution followed a motion by Rep. Johnson Agbonayinma (APC-Edo) on the need to diversify from reliance on oil revenue to alternative sources of revenue to cushion the effects of dwindling oil revenue.
In the motion, Agbonayinma described the mining sector as a key driver in national economic development, saying that Nigeria had the fourth largest reserve of bitumen globally.
He added that Nigeria also had the second largest iron ore deposit in Africa, apart from its abundant coal resources.
The lawmaker lamented that the nation’s mining industry was under-utilized, leading to the importation of minerals that could be locally produced.
According to him, reports by Signal One International, a United States-based firm in 2016, the nation lost 50 billion dollars in gold revenue tax over the last two years through illegal mining and exports of unprocessed gold.
He added that the former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, identified inadequate tracking as the key challenge to effectively monitor revenue leakages in the sector.
Agbonayinma expressed worry that reports from the “Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) indicated that between 2014 and 2015, the country lost an estimated nine billion dollars to illegal mining operations and gold exports.”
The motion was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
The ad hoc committee currently investigating financial leakages in the country will also look into the allegations and report back in six weeks for further legislative action. (NAN)