Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Ibeshe community, miners on war path over royalties

NEGLIGENCE or outright complicity and greed on the part of federal agents in the dispute over a leased mining title at Isashi-Ibeshe in Ikorodu, Lagos State, is fast giving way to restiveness in the once serene and beautiful community, which now demands the Federal Government’s urgent intervention.
At the centre of the quarrel is Glossands Limited, a major dredging company which the indigenes accused of having operated in the community for over two decades without any meaningful benefit to the people or their environment, and a recent entrant, Eva & Kings. The others include Badewa and Bima dredging firms.
During their protest on Monday, some Ibeshe youths, led by their chiefs, urged Glossands Limited to move its dredging equipment from the other dredgers’ waterfront. The  Otun Asashi  of Isashi Community, Rafiu Aregbesola, told newsmen that Glossands started courting trouble when it ran its dredger across Eva & Kings’ waterfront and has snubbed all interventions to move its equipment.
According to Aregbesola, after the Ibeshe traditional authority’s several efforts failed to persuade Glossands to shift ground and allow the other legal firms some space to operate alongside, the Olubeshe-in-Council, exercising the community’s right under Section 100 of the federal mining law, demanded that Glossands moved its equipment as a matter of urgency.
In their letter of September 28, 2015 to Glossands, entitled, “Urgent Demand For Compliance,” which was signed by over seven Ibeshe chiefs and copied the Director of Mines, Inspectorate Department, MMSD; Mines Officer, Mines Inspectorate Department, Lagos; MD, Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA); Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2, Lagos, and the Inspector General of Police, among others, the community sought understanding and cooperation among the dredgers.
Fatherly responsibility
“As host community of the mineral title in Isashi-Ibeshe, Ikorodu area, you would appreciate the critical role we are to play for peace and orderliness,” the letter read in part. “We feel slighted if our fatherly responsibility is snubbed by any of our guests and we would react appropriately.
“Recently, our traditional ruling council, upon a complaint by Eva & Kings Nigeria Limited, delegated four of our chiefs to inspect the coastline. They confirmed to us that your company placed its dredger and other equipment on the waterfront of Eva & Kings. In our investigation, we found out that Eva & Kings has authentic approval for the coordinates in the same place you positioned your dredger (Quarry Lease No: 021189).
“Since we want peace in our community, we therefore demand the immediate repositioning of your dredger to your own area so as not to disturb the operations of Eva & Kings. We do not take kindly to your disturbing other people’s operations or interfering in their activities in our community.
“If you have any issue with them, direct such to the government, which would take necessary steps. Don’t be an enforcer in our community and its environs because that can lead to a breakdown of law and order. Please, if our demand is not respected, we might be forced to stop all dredging activities.”
Nevertheless, the community leaders complained that Glossands was not impacting the community and its people positively in any way, adding that it had employed only one indigene in its over two decades of operation. In view of this, they said, they would provide equal opportunity to competitors and would not allow them to be stifled out of business.
Dredging firms
Similarly, an Isashi youth leader, Ogundeji Abideen, accused Glossands of trying to frustrate other operators out of the community, adding that the community wants all dredging firms to co-exist peacefully. Also, a youth leader from Ibeshe community, Adeshina Jamiu, urged Glossands to move its equipment from others waterfronts and allow peace to reign according to the wishes of the people.
Eva & Kings, by available documents, was granted QLS21189 with three cadastral units of 0.6km area in Ikorodu vie a letter signed by the Director General of Mining Cadastre Office of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, O S Nkom, upon acknowledging that it had earlier been erroneously granted to be on Victoria Island, contrary to the application.
His notification letter of September 7, 2015, with reference No MCO/CONC/QLS/21189, stated: “I am directed to convey the Director General’s approval on your application for Quarry Lease No: 21189QLS.
“Licenses/Leases will be issued subject to full payment of the annual service fee of N60,000 only. Failure to pay this fee within 14 days from the date of receipt of this letter will lead to the withdrawal of the grant in line with the provisions of Nigerian Minerals and Mining Regulations, 2011.”
This requirement the companied complied with. Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Eva and Kings, Ukah Emmanuel Onyewuchi, alleged that the documents being paraded by Glossands over the lease title were forged and that whatever recent agreement it signed with the community was not with the appropriate authorities.
He further claimed that Glossands masterminded his elder brother’s death.
However, a senior official of Glossands argued that the other dredgers were operating illegally, and that Eva & Kings had always encroached on Glossands’ licensed cadastral units without restraint.
The source, pleading anonymity, said: “We are the licensed miners for that area and have been operating in that coastline for over 20 years. Before now, we have been paying all royalties to the community.

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