Police arraign staff of Chinese company for removing seal on mining site

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The police have arraigned two members of staff of Hongao Mining Company Limited who removed a seal on the firm’s mining site in the federal capital territory (FCT).

The duo — Moses Smart and Ezeilo Stanley — were arraigned before an upper area court in Mpape, on Tuesday, and charged with assault and obstruction of public servants in the discharge of their lawful duties.

The workers were arrested by the police after destroying the seal — placed by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) — over the weekend.

NESREA had sealed off the company last week after it found out that it violated Nigeria’s environmental laws as reported by TheCable.

The company, which had police protection, ruined the water source of at least six communities in Karshi.

Months-long investigation showed how the company operated with water from a stream in Kutasa in Karshi area of the FCT, under the protection of officers of the Nigeria police force.

It had also been previously reported that the company was mining gold illegally, a claim Mohammed Bello, the FCT minister, later confirmed to be true.

The stream is the only water source for at least six communities in the area. The villagers, mostly farmers, said some of them drink from it.

A laboratory analysis carried out on the water confirmed that it was highly turbid and unfit for drinking.

In the analysis done at the FCT water board, Okobi O.Y., who signed the report on behalf of the general manager, said the “physio-chemical analysis showed high levels of turbidity, nitrate and iron and that the water may need further treatment”.

Among other infractions, the company also failed to carry out its activities in “an environmentally and socially responsible manner”, as required by section 61 of the minerals and mining act.

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