Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki yesterday shut down the contentious Obu mines in Okpella until further notice.
Obaseki made the pronouncement while receiving in his office, Community heads and Chiefs of Ukhomunyio Okpella, the host community of the disputed mines.
Spokesman of the visiting group, Chief Moshood Aliu lamented the use of youths to create tension in the area. He said: “Obu mines was in the then Midwest, 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.”
In a swift reaction, Obaseki directed the state police Commissioner and the Army Brigade Commander in the state to halt operations at the Obu mines with immediate effect saying the decision was taken in the interest of peace and tranquillity of the state and its people.
Obaseki 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 break down of law and order. The situation has degenerated badly.”
He furthered: “Two people can’t lay claim to one asset. Until the court decides the ownership or the federal supervising agency, 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”
Aliu applauded the governor’s decision saying the decision will bring relief to the people who have been living under fear. He explained that while the location of the mines is not in dispute, what is being disputed is the ownership.
It would be recalled that the ownership of the mines has been a subject of dispute between Dangote Cement Plc and Bua Cement, which the Federal Ministry of Mines had asked to vacate the mines because it was an exploiting limestones in the area illegally.