The Minister of Solid Minerals, Dele Alake, said Tuesday that powerful Nigerians are deeply involved in illegal mining of sold minerals. He added that they are the ones who sponsor banditry and terrorism in Nigeria.

Alake said this when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals for the defense of the 2024 budget in Abuja.

He said that much of banditry and terrorism is sponsored by illegal miners and that they are not people who harvest gold there, but powerful individuals in the country.

He added that most illegal miners were not foreigners, but foreigners could be seen as symptoms.

“Nigerians are the powerful people behind them, we are identifying them with kinetic and non-kinetic means. We encourage these small illegal miners to form cooperatives,” he said.

He assured that the ministry will fulfill its mandate if the necessary funding is provided.

“We can return trillions to this country’s coffers as revenue if we receive the proposed budget,” he said.

Chairman of the commission, Hon. Gaza Gbefwi, said the solid minerals sector remains the last hope for the country to achieve the level of diversity it needs, adding that the funds allocated to the sector in the 2024 budget are manifestly inadequate.