Edo Gov Shuts Disputed Obu Mines, Okpella …Orders Police to Dislodge Illegal Miners as Community Hails Decision

Gov. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki

Ronke Kehinde/

Citing security concerns arising from the proclamation by the Federal Ministry of Mines over alleged illegal activities at the contentious Obu mines at Okpella, in Edo State, Gov Godwin Obaseki has shut down the mines until further notice.

The governor said that the decision was taken in the interest of peace and tranquillity, as he warned that flouting of his order would have serious consequences.

Obaseki directed the state’s Commissioner of Police and the Army Brigade Commander to halt further operations at the mines with immediate effect.

NewsmakersNG had reported that the ownership of the mines has been in dispute between Africa’s leading Cement manufacturers, Dangote Cement Plc and Bua Cement, which the Federal Ministry of Mines had asked to vacate the site because it was exploiting limestone in the area illegally.

Obaseki made the announcement while receiving in his office Community heads and Chiefs of Ukhomunyio Okpella, whose community hosts the disputed mines and had come to express reservation at the alleged use of youths as militia to enforce perceived rights to ownership of the mines and thus creating security threat to the peace of the people.

The governor described Okpella as the mineral gem of Edo State and as such mineral resources ought to be a blessing to the people of the state “but regrettably, the situation on ground has degenerated to a security threat and therefore there is the need to nip it in the bud.

He said, “The Federal Ministry of Mines which has authority over the mines has proclaimed that what we have there now is illegal mining and we don’t want a breakdown of law and order. The situation has degenerated badly.

“Those of you who were concerned have moved and tried to resolve the matter, we lost two of the people on the road to Benin while on the trouble shooting mission to Benin.  We had a meeting in Abuja two weeks ago and we analysed the Obu mines issue.

“Two people can’t lay claim to one asset, until the court decides the ownership or the federal supervising agency, the Ministry of Mines says otherwise. I am closing down that Obu mines with immediate effect because we believe there is globally acceptable way of determining ownership in a contentious matter as this without recourse to self help.”

The governor noted that mines is on the exclusive list of the federal government and the ministry said there was illegal mining going on there, “from today there will be no further mining operations in Obu”.

The Okpela Chiefs applauded Obaseki’s decision and declared their loyalty to the state government saying the decision will bring relief to the people who have been living with fear.

Spokesman of the Okpella Chiefs, Chief Moshood Aliu, told the governor that they were in his office to declare support for the state government’s effort at industrializing the state and for him to intervene in the dispute between Dangote Cement and Bua.

The Community heads disclosed that the youths are being incited against one another in a bid to enforce perceived right to ownership of the mines, a situation he said generated tension in the area.

Chief Moshood explained that while the location of the mines is not in dispute, what is being disputed is the ownership.

He said, “The Obu Mines was in the then Mid West, later Bendel, and now Edo State. We are the occupier of the area and we don’t want trouble, the unilateralism and use of youths as militia to enforce ownership right is condemnable.”