They dig, they die

IJERO EKITI

They  dig , they die

For many years Ijero  in Ekiti State has been invaded by illegal miners who are  foreigners and natives while the town is on the bridge to cave in, taiwoabiodun.com investigates

see video here

Unperturbed as he exhibited unusual confidence while strolling about the huge excavation site for the proverbial goldmine. The young man, a Kano indigene simply identified as Ahmed  was ably accompanied by his able lieutenant and  labourer, Abubakar from Bauchi, who obviously was wearing a frowned  face. He took his spade and headed towards the dug tunnel.

The duo hinted this reporter that they came on a voyage in search of precious stones which are readily available in commercial quantity  in Ijero.

After waiting  for over one  hour for Abubakar to appear at the other end the long wait at the lonely and unsightly enclave appears to this reporter an endless one.

A trip to Ijero Ekiti in search of gold made these two friends left their homes to search for greener pastures

One of the residents revealed that the town city Centre is besieged  daily by  indigenes of different nationalities, name it: Togolese , Lebanese , Sudanese, Liberian, Cotonou , Senegalese, as well as Europeans who stormed the ancient town for similar reason.

However, the ecological threat caused by illegal mining activities in IJERO and its environs cannot be over emphasized even as the spiral effect on the water sourced majorly from the wells is believed to be injurious to the health of thousands of hapless IJERO residents.

ABUBAKAR -AN ILLEGAL MINER GOING UNDERGROUND IN SEARCH OF PRECIOUS STONES                                                             PHOTO:TAIWO ABIODUN

 

Unless urgent steps are taken by concerned authorities, the entire IJERO community, despite the huge deposits of rich mineral resources, may soon face the imminence of socio-  economic degradation resulting in health hazards, no thanks to mining operations giving outsiders false impression that all is well with them.

There is no doubt that the ancient town is blessed  with  mineral deposits.

According  to Mr. M. Yewande “Ijero is blessed with solid mineral resources that is next to Jos. What we have here can sustain this town if well tapped .We have chiefly among them  : limestone, gold, bauxite, copper, turmaline, cushy, feldspar ,cataract, foundry  sand, costa mica, tantalite, ruby, rubilite, sodonite, prodonite, tin, columbite, diamond , bauxite, iron and kaolin.We equally have gold which is yet untapped”.

How illegal  miners work

There are a lot of illegal miners in the land , according to a source who begged for anonymity. One of the illegal miners explained  how they get the precious stones  , “when  we sight a certain stone we would dig  that place of over 200 feet deep and this leads us again to  sight another stone ( which acts as a pointer  to where we are going) then we continue digging until we  again come across  some specific   stones which leads you ahead  that you are getting there for  they are like a compass  locating where these  precious stones are”.

Aside this , the illegal miner continued “there is a chemical  used to blast these stones , we  would fix it with wire and move away from the place , at least some feet away and connect it with the battery  then blast it  and within 20 minutes to  one hour its all over, then some stones would be exposed while water would be oozing  from the area and the next thing to do is to use pumping machine to drain the water and continue blasting the rock sighted”.

How we get the land

Another illegal miner said “We buy some portion  of land for 400 naira per day and will be checking whether we would get these precious stones  , if we get them it’s our luck and if we don’t get them we have lost our 400 Naira. However we have a group and the group is divided into seven while  each group would divide themselves and part ways and  whoever gets luck to get a place where mineral  deposits are  would call  others and then the digging starts “, the  man explained

Death on the prowl

These mining sites had recorded a lot of deaths .”In a year over 10 official deaths were reported not to talk of  those  secretly buried. Many  died when   the excavated sand  caves  – in. Many at times  illegal miners  would fall into the deep trenches dug  or    heaped sand would  fall  on many and buried them alive “, said an illegal miner.

A young man said ” when they die we would use long rope to bring the corpses out from the dug holes. A source said ” at least an average of 20 people die in this process. Last year,  I know about six people who died in the process.They tied a rope and went into the hole and tied  it on the body of the boy and brought it out.However , while they announced the few natives that died there  but we record high number of deaths  from the Hausas and foreigners  whose history are not known”. A man said his cousin  died in one of the  dug holes last year, he said ” we were at home when his friends  came to inform us that my cousin had died  while scooping  the earth.We cried and  cried and cried for he was yet to get married.

“Another incidence happened when a boy after he had finished (in the dug well ) a rope  used to bring him out cut in the process and he fell back  into the pit , he broke his neck and his back that was all.He was eventually tied again and brought out dead!.

“But when a foreigner dies they would say it is the wish of Allah and no cries while some would be buried in the ground”.

 

Native connivance

No one can be trusted as some unscrupulous natives connive with outsiders  to loot the town.The financial gains realized from these resources  is either pocketed or go into private pocket or taken away by these foreigners .

Most of the high class people one looks up to as rich men  are thieves who assist these foreigners and put them through on how  and where to get these products. In the end these so called big men would collect money and get away.

Yewande is concerned  about them , he said ” there is no development here.There is no impact that these precious stones are found here because they are carted away with the connivance of big men in our community. Many have  become sick because of the blasts of these stones. The illegal blasting has created a lot of problems here.Many developed  hearing problems , mental disturbance, fear of lead  poisoning has led to deaths of many. Madam Mary Adefebi said she had no peace and her sleep was always disrupted when she was admitted at the Specialist Hospital where blasting was done behind the hospital .” In the night I would be hearing blasts and my eardrum was always affected.A woman collapsed and died one day as a result of the blast because she was hypertensive”.

Another complainant whose house is close to the fields said ”many houses are shaking for they had dredged most of these places.One day houses would be sinking .I pray the State government should assist us in this.

Yewande said what happened in Zamfara ( as people were drinking poisoned water) will soon happen here.

The royal father who is not impressed about the environment and with frowned look said ” what we have here is pure looting , people come from Sudan, Moronvia, Togo, Cotonou  , Senegal, Europe .

Solution

Group Captain Ropo Aiyegbusi ( retired) one of the notable indigenes of the state decried the situation and said the fault comes from leaders of the community who did not cooperate with the vigilante group ,he asked ” How many have they arrested? .It is connivance , some of our people do plan with these unscrupulous elements to steal our resources. We have many foreigners  who are staying here illegally and because of our precious stones stay behind here stealing and looting ..

“How many of these people have the license to use? Do they pay to the local government what they are supposed to pay ? What of the state and the federal government ? Don’t we have law that covers mining? . I know it is not yet time for God to intervene ,People are dying silently”, he added.

An Honourable  who begs for anonymity also lamented on how some notable and influential people connive with the natives and loot their precious stones.

 

Healing power of Egungun Aje in Ijero -Ekiti

Are you looking for the fruits of the womb, seeking for job, wants healing or wants to solve your marital or any  problem?. Go to  Egungun Festival in Ijero Ekiti , submit yourselves to  flogging by the Egunguns, or Egungun Aje or Oko Egungun and you will give testimonies the following year!. It is real. taiwoabiodun.com reports

Masquerades  beating / thrashing spectators

 Ijero -Ekiti  ended their   seven days of their Ogun/Egungun festival where  people voluntarily submitted  themselves to be flogged by  Masquerades

It was exciting but painstaking .It was  fun  but a painful one. These masquerades of different ages , sizes  and status   flogged women and men , young men and ladies irrespective of  their  status and conditions  .

The Masquerades  flogged  those looking for the  fruits of the womb. They whipped   those looking for job, or having marital  problems and seeking   solutions to their problems .

 

No, the Masquerades did not use their power or  force . Those   flogged   willingly and happily submitted  themselves for flogging   , yes they  voluntarily released themselves for whipping or caning by these Masquerades. These ‘victims’  happily  received  their ”blessings” in  good faith and thanked their stars for  having the opportunity of being  flogged  as they  prayed along .

RESULTS FROM THE FLOGGINGS

Yes, the following year those flogged would  come back to tell stories of joy , give testimonies of the blessings they received from the floggings from the Masquerades.Many said they had babies, got jobs, promoted at work among others. It is real , not  a story. That is how the Ijero- Ekiti in Ekiti State celebrate  their Egungun festival annually .

 

 Ajero of Ijero

Watching the  over 500 Masquerades  comprising the young  and middle- aged ones as they all trooped out in their number with their long canes. They were all ‘dressed’ in their palm-fronds and covered their faces with different types of well -carved wooden masks. It  was interesting .

On that day they   shook the town to its foundation as they were  everywhere , they danced round the town with their canes .They  ran  around like a spirit-possessed man,they  pursued their  spectators and  visitors     while the the metals on their ankles would be making sound .At a time they all gathered and said  loud prayers in their native language .This has become an annual ritual as individuals pray for the town.
For Ijero Ekiti, the Ogun/ Egungun festival  lasted for seven days  as the   townsmen or natives  irrespective of their religious  belief went into frenzy in their wild jubilation believing their  ancestors  have come from the world beyond to deliver them  and solve their problems . Visitors, natives from far and near were present to witness the historic festival which   had been in practice for over 1,000years.
   According to Joshua Oyewande  Olukolade , one of the community leaders  ” the festival lasts for seven days and it has been on for over 1,000 years.It brings the sons and daughters of the town together , people  come from United Kingdom ,  United States of America and from far and near to watch and especially for prayer which is efficacious .Now I came with some of my friends from Enugu to witness this historic festival”.

 

 

 Abiodun, Femi and Oyewande watching the activities

EGUNGUNS ARE OUR ANCESTORS FROM HEAVEN
Narrating how it started, the town’s monarch and head of the community Oba Joseph Adebayo Adewole the Ajero of Ijero stated ”This festival is called Ogun/ Egungun festival, we spent two weeks in preparation for it for the farmers would be at home to observe Ogun for they use Ogun’s implements like cutlass, hoes, and iron materials in their farm .That is why the Ijero sons and and daughters would come home  to celebrate and another means of  re-union of families. And our new calendar year starts when we ends the Ogun festival. Some communities only worshiped masquerades whereas we do  worship both Ogun and Masquerades together and it is only Ijero that observes that in Yoruba land!”, the monarch boasted .
On the Egungun festival the monarch said “For the Egungun festival we believed our forefathers came from heaven to stay with us for seven days and after the seven days they go back to heaven where they came from. And when sending them off all sons and daughters, visitors and friends would raise their voices to high heavens and  pray, ask for whatever they want   and for the progress of the town.The significance is to celebrate our ancestors and assess ourselves, improve on ourselves and move forward.”

 

Abiodun during the interview

EGUNGUN AJE OR AKO EGUNGUN
Among over 500  masquerades is the most powerful one called ‘ Egungun Aje , or Ako Egungun  which is known to be very powerful and highly efficacious in prayer .According to the custodian of the Egungun Aje ,High Chief Samuel Obafemi the Aasan of Ijero  of Ijero Ekiti, ” I am the custodian of Ako Egungun  also known as Egungun  Aje , and in Yorubaland  it is only  the Ijeros that  have  this type of masquerade which is in Ijero Ekiti here .It has been existence  for over 1,000 years and ordinary person cannot wear it , whoever wears it has to be from the family of Egungun Aje or Ako Egungun and must be initiated into it .The Aje Masquerade (Ako Egungun) has and  holds a long spiritual cane he uses to cane people to receive  blessing”. According to Obafemi  , it is a blessing if one is caned by the Egungun for  it is believed the cane  has  both physical and spiritual healing thus many begged him to be flogged by Ako Egungun“.

Custodian of Egungun Aje

Corroborating Obafemi,  Oyewande said ” Yes ,it is true  , we call the cane Esisan and is being used , and the people holding them are families of Asosanyin .It is the biggest  masquerade and his cane is believed to be effective for any blessing so people even begged him to cane them.There is no bitterness in flogging people with it rather they offered themselves to be caned .It is believed that when one is caned by Egungun Aje this year  he would be praying to be caned next year .If it is a woman looking for the fruits  of the womb and she is being whipped by the masquerade that means her prayers has been answered for she would bring her baby next year , many can testify to this, go and do the research  ” , he boasted .

 

HOW EGUNGUN AJE CAME TO BE
On how Egungun Aje came to be , the monarch explained ”in the days of yore when children were falling sick and  were dying our forefathers brought Egungun Aje out to come and rescue the town and it cured people and released  them from bondage. So those who  fell sick were healed while progress came to the town  and it waded off calamity from the land.That is why we have been celebrating and worshiping Egungun Aje , we also called it Ako Egungun ( husband of all the Egunguns ).
On that evening the arrival of Egungun Aje charged everywhere as there was huge cries of happiness of his arrival while many ran to him to be whipped with his cane. Many begged him to cane him. A young man , Yemi Olutayo said he offered himself to be caned to receive his ( Aje Egungun) blessing .” I am glad for having the opportunity to cane me , it is a physical and spiritual blessing .I know he has answered my prayers  and my life cannot be the same again as things will improve for me next year”.

VIP women in the town at the festival

Princess Iya Seyi ( aka Iya Sewooo) said ” I struggled to get to where Egungun Aje is but  the crowd was too much , but I have prayed with his name to let me grow old and let my business flourish “

 

They all waited patiently till 8pm for the arrival of Egungun Aje or Ako Egungun to remove his mask.They raised their voices and prayed .And immediately the Egungun Aje removed his mask, they all jubilated believing their prayers had been answered.

As if they were congregation in the church the over 20,000 people who thronged the place raised up their voices and started praying in the name of Egungun Aje , to the surprise of this reporter .
Dr.Femi  Ayo Ajai , who came from Aramoko Ekiti said ” it is a belief and I must confess to you all their prayers had been answered .That is why people come all the way from America, London and all places to receive blessings from Egungun Aje .I have never for once missed this festival ,It is interesting and adventurous”.
At 8 o’clock in the evening  ( Sunday ) over 20,000  spectators including the monarchs from the neighboring towns and  chiefs  waited to receive prayers from Egungun  Aje  and everywhere went wild .Prayers were offered and immediately the  Egungun Aje removed the wooden mask  from his face to be seen , it was all over .And while many dispersed others were glued to where they were standing, praying!.

Who knows Egungun Aje might answer your prayers , so make sure you do  not only witness the Festival next time but also allow the Masquerades to flog you and be free from your bondage.

 

 

Osirigbongbo the Ijero -Ekiti Warrior

                    ….pound  him with  pestle to  wake – up

                    .…. used bare hands to fight in war

                .………did not die ,went into the ground

         The   statue is  gigantic, intimidating, historical and the hero is  full of incredible character. What the statue is built upon  is as strong as the Warrior  himself. Standing by his side one looks like a dwarf. A curious look at the statue one could see amulets  leather strings (ifunpa) and gourds (ado) tied  on his wrists and legs  . 

  The  Warrior  is holding  animal  horns stuffed with some mysterious concoction or substances laced  with powerful spiritual words of mysticism called  African power (Ase)   . His  pouch is  strapped  across  his shoulder as he  proudly displayed  his   instruments of war  with two hands, they were his weapons :voodo or  juju of which the Yoruba  would call  oogun abenugongo (protruding powerful charm).

His man-mountain statue  s  is frightening, his  words were powerful and wielding the scepter and spiritual authority while his actions were unchallenged able! . His appearance was terrifying as Yoruba would call him the fearsome one   (erujeje).

 He was one of the powerful Yoruba Warriors in the days of old.

              

Ankles decorated with charms

He was the most giant man in the land  of Ijero- Ekiti.No man born of a woman can  look at his face. A  lily- livered cannot look at him twice .The  Warrior   was  enfant terrible.

            A POWERFUL WARRIOR

     According to HRM the Alajero of Ijero, Oba   Joseph Adebayo Adewole ,the man called Osirigbongbo was a mysterious and powerful man, he said     ” the man called Osirigbongbo was always  woken up by beating him  with pestle ( omo odo ). His body was full of juju. In  war , he depended on his juju and  he used bare hands to fight  when his enemies   were  using gun, knives and cutlass as war tools”. He was a combination of mysticism and voodooism. The monarch  added ”he was surely the undisputed mighty man tearing his enemies apart  with his bare hands in  war and then used  their tights as weapon (cudgel )  in war” .What a terrifying statement!

 And  what if  Osirigbongbo suddenly appear and challenge  defacing him? .God forbid!

  No man has ever been feared or respected or loved more than him in the land. That is the life and times of the man called Osiri Gbo N Gbo

 

 Body  decorated with  juju

Alajero said ”His contribution to Ijero community can never be forgotten ”. No wonder his giant statue  is placed at the centre of the town showing him the recognition, appreciation and love  bestowed on him after he had departed centuries ago.

    And the name,Osiri Gbo N Gbo with the description of him with the statue’s size surely showed he was what they called .

         OSIRI-GBO-N-GBO THE WARRIOR

 At the center of the town is a giant statue of one of  those who rescued the town( Ijero) from being conquered by enemies.

      An educationist and one of the community  leaders Joshua Oyewande  Olukolade described  how Osirigbongbo looked like  “the man , Osirigbongbo , according to our forefathers was very, very   giant  with intimidating figure , and his stature  was useful to the town as he used to to help  the town from being plundered. Being a warrior , Osirigbongbo was always ready to rescue the town from being  taken into captivity”.

 Olukolade who is one of the most respectable man in the community and who also serves as the mouthpiece is proud of his community of having such History , he said ” we should appreciate our legends.I love this great town for erecting the statue here to let the unborn children see .”

The monarch described the warrior’s  conquests thus  “On his war exploits ,Osirigbongbo would go to war without war tools .When he gets  to the hottest war zone he would go for   his enemies’ leaders,  used his bare hands to tear them  apart and would use his victims’ torn legs  as a baton fighting the  war”.

                HIS  STRANGE FEEDING HABIT 

     Oba Adewole  said” we were told by our forefathers that Osirigbongbo used to eat  a morsel with the head of a cow .He was said to have  giant muzzle  .He ate a morsel of pounded yam with the head of a cow”.  Another mind-boggling story from the man -mountain warrior!.

               HE ENTERED THE GROUND ALIVE!

        Many strange stories  were told  about him, some said  he  entered the ground at Oke -Agba where he was born AND   did not die , but instructed  his townsmen to call upon him when in crisis . He also instructed them  to use pestle  and  beat the spot where he entered the ground three times  for him to  come out. Unfortunately   some mischievous natives cried wolf three times  when there was no wolf.They raised false alarm  three times and he came out the three times and killed many of them , when he later realised it  was a false alarm, it was too late. Seeing the massacre  he did, he never came up to rescue them again, Yewande said.

         Although the statue is conspicuously  located  in  the center of the town . The location   is used  as a rallying meeting point and of course where town criers make necessary announcement. One thing is still certain, the statue is revered and when there  are problems the man is offered sacrifice to to appease him.

Though the place looked  unkempt as some people offer sacrifices under it , paste advertisement papers on it and defaced it  , yet it is still honoured and revered and offered sacrifices when the need arises.

There should be a POST NO BILL warning  on the fence and the statue should not be defaced. 

And   what if  Osirigbongbo  suddenly appear and challenge those defacing him?.

God forbid.

Stones that ‘become’ kings

                      ………..   Nobody can count the stones

                    ………The stones are sacred

 

These Chiefs are explaining some points  about the  sacred stones

                                CAN YOU COUNT?

Are  you a good mathematician or a good Accountant who can count and get an accurate answer to figures? .If you are sure of yourself then don’t be disappointed when  you fail this simple arithmetic. If you are very sure of yourself then come to Ijero- Ekiti to make effort and count the number of these stones in the above brick fence,

  Outside  His Royal Majesty Oba Joseph Adebayo Adewole  the Alajero of Ijero’s  palace is a sacred place where hundreds of   stones are  neatly kept in a circle  and guarded by concrete  wall with sharp and pointed  irons to protect the stones.

Looking at these stones one may be curious to ask  over 1001 questions , ”what importance  are these  stones?.Are they precious stones?. What are these stones doing here?.Why are they  here and for how long have they been here? . What could have been the reason for  ”dumping” them  here?. Are they gold?”

                                       SACRED STONES

 In Ijero -Ekiti this place has become a sacred place thus it has become a Tourist  attraction Center . It is  sacred . It is  kept neat always .Speaking with the   monarch , the Alajero of Ijero  who doubles as the traditional ruler and head of the community , he said ‘‘ each stone represents a king that had passed away and that is how it has been from time immemorial”, he continued  ,” nobody can count the number of the stones and while counting the number of these  stones you get confused , and that   is mysterious’‘  .

He continued ”If you start  counting the stones one, two, three you would miss it and will never be able to finish counting them as you would get confused”.

 

He continued   ”if you go back  and start  counting again you will get confused no matter how smart or brilliant you are. No man in this town knows the number of the stones deposited here”, he said beating his chest but quickly added ”It is only the Oloris   (wives of the Monarch) and the monarch himself  that know  the number ”.

He explained further as he emphasized on  the ”holiness” of the place , he said ”the place is a sacred place and one must not go into the place, or throw things or rubbish into the place, whoever does that would see its repercussion. No one ever tries  it”, he said with all seriousness.

           A  STONE REPRESENTS A DEAD MONARCH

Still on the stones , the king said  ”the sacred place where we keep these stones started long time ago when our forefathers were not educated , so whenever a king dies the community would place a stone there”. So if you want to know how many kings that had passed away you will have to count the number of stones there. Despite our civilization , education and modern world we refused to jettison the idea”.

When  contacted  , Mr. Yewande  Joshua Olukolade who is  a native of the town  with  two Master degrees  confirmed  the story . When reminded that the town is among the few towns in Nigeria who can boast of at least five graduates from each household   but still using the stone age method  to record their monarchs’ deaths   Olukolade  disagreed, he said ” it is true we are educated but we cherish our culture and tradition  our forefathers left behind.We met them doing it and we shall continue irrespective of our education.

However , the monarch who is a lover of tradition and culture said   ”When I pass away too a stone would be placed  there, and that would be my own stone”.

These stones represent the number of the departed Kings in Ijero-Ekiti.

 

they go underground, they die

 

 

IJERO EKITI

They go underground , they die

For many years Ijero  in Ekiti State has been invaded by illegal miners who are  foreigners and natives while the town is on the bridge to cave in, taiwoabiodun.com investigates

see video here

Unperturbed as he exhibited unusual confidence while strolling about the huge excavation site for the proverbial goldmine. The young man, a Kano indigene simply identified as Ahmed  was ably accompanied by his able lieutenant and  labourer, Abubakar from Bauchi, who obviously was wearing a frowned  face. He took his spade and headed towards the dug tunnel.

The duo hinted this reporter that they came on a voyage in search of precious stones which are readily available in commercial quantity  in Ijero.

After waiting  for over one  hour for Abubakar to appear at the other end the long wait at the lonely and unsightly enclave appears to this reporter an endless one.

A trip to Ijero Ekiti in search of gold made these two friends left their homes to search for greener pastures

One of the residents revealed that the town city Centre is besieged  daily by  indigenes of different nationalities, name it: Togolese , Lebanese , Sudanese, Liberian, Cotonou , Senegalese, as well as Europeans who stormed the ancient town for similar reason.

However, the ecological threat caused by illegal mining activities in IJERO and its environs cannot be over emphasized even as the spiral effect on the water sourced majorly from the wells is believed to be injurious to the health of thousands of hapless IJERO residents.

ABUBAKAR -AN ILLEGAL MINER GOING UNDERGROUND IN SEARCH OF PRECIOUS STONES                                                             PHOTO:TAIWO ABIODUN

 

Unless urgent steps are taken by concerned authorities, the entire IJERO community, despite the huge deposits of rich mineral resources, may soon face the imminence of socio-  economic degradation resulting in health hazards, no thanks to mining operations giving outsiders false impression that all is well with them.

There is no doubt that the ancient town is blessed  with  mineral deposits.

According  to Mr. M. Yewande “Ijero is blessed with solid mineral resources that is next to Jos. What we have here can sustain this town if well tapped .We have chiefly among them  : limestone, gold, bauxite, copper, turmaline, cushy, feldspar ,cataract, foundry  sand, costa mica, tantalite, ruby, rubilite, sodonite, prodonite, tin, columbite, diamond , bauxite, iron and kaolin.We equally have gold which is yet untapped”.

How illegal  miners work

There are a lot of illegal miners in the land , according to a source who begged for anonymity. One of the illegal miners explained  how they get the precious stones  , “when  we sight a certain stone we would dig  that place of over 200 feet deep and this leads us again to  sight another stone ( which acts as a pointer  to where we are going) then we continue digging until we  again come across  some specific   stones which leads you ahead  that you are getting there for  they are like a compass  locating where these  precious stones are”.

Aside this , the illegal miner continued “there is a chemical  used to blast these stones , we  would fix it with wire and move away from the place , at least some feet away and connect it with the battery  then blast it  and within 20 minutes to  one hour its all over, then some stones would be exposed while water would be oozing  from the area and the next thing to do is to use pumping machine to drain the water and continue blasting the rock sighted”.

How we get the land

Another illegal miner said “We buy some portion  of land for 400 naira per day and will be checking whether we would get these precious stones  , if we get them it’s our luck and if we don’t get them we have lost our 400 Naira. However we have a group and the group is divided into seven while  each group would divide themselves and part ways and  whoever gets luck to get a place where mineral  deposits are  would call  others and then the digging starts “, the  man explained

Death on the prowl

These mining sites had recorded a lot of deaths .”In a year over 10 official deaths were reported not to talk of  those  secretly buried. Many  died when   the excavated sand  caves  – in. Many at times  illegal miners  would fall into the deep trenches dug  or    heaped sand would  fall  on many and buried them alive “, said an illegal miner.

A young man said ” when they die we would use long rope to bring the corpses out from the dug holes. A source said ” at least an average of 20 people die in this process. Last year,  I know about six people who died in the process.They tied a rope and went into the hole and tied  it on the body of the boy and brought it out.However , while they announced the few natives that died there  but we record high number of deaths  from the Hausas and foreigners  whose history are not known”. A man said his cousin  died in one of the  dug holes last year, he said ” we were at home when his friends  came to inform us that my cousin had died  while scooping  the earth.We cried and  cried and cried for he was yet to get married.

“Another incidence happened when a boy after he had finished (in the dug well ) a rope  used to bring him out cut in the process and he fell back  into the pit , he broke his neck and his back that was all.He was eventually tied again and brought out dead!.

“But when a foreigner dies they would say it is the wish of Allah and no cries while some would be buried in the ground”.

 

Native connivance

No one can be trusted as some unscrupulous natives connive with outsiders  to loot the town.The financial gains realized from these resources  is either pocketed or go into private pocket or taken away by these foreigners .

Most of the high class people one looks up to as rich men  are thieves who assist these foreigners and put them through on how  and where to get these products. In the end these so called big men would collect money and get away.

Yewande is concerned  about them , he said ” there is no development here.There is no impact that these precious stones are found here because they are carted away with the connivance of big men in our community. Many have  become sick because of the blasts of these stones. The illegal blasting has created a lot of problems here.Many developed  hearing problems , mental disturbance, fear of lead  poisoning has led to deaths of many. Madam Mary Adefebi said she had no peace and her sleep was always disrupted when she was admitted at the Specialist Hospital where blasting was done behind the hospital .” In the night I would be hearing blasts and my eardrum was always affected.A woman collapsed and died one day as a result of the blast because she was hypertensive”.

Another complainant whose house is close to the fields said ”many houses are shaking for they had dredged most of these places.One day houses would be sinking .I pray the State government should assist us in this.

Yewande said what happened in Zamfara ( as people were drinking poisoned water) will soon happen here.

The royal father who is not impressed about the environment and with frowned look said ” what we have here is pure looting , people come from Sudan, Moronvia, Togo, Cotonou  , Senegal, Europe .

Solution

Group Captain Ropo Aiyegbusi ( retired) one of the notable indigenes of the state decried the situation and said the fault comes from leaders of the community who did not cooperate with the vigilante group ,he asked ” How many have they arrested? .It is connivance , some of our people do plan with these unscrupulous elements to steal our resources. We have many foreigners  who are staying here illegally and because of our precious stones stay behind here stealing and looting ..

“How many of these people have the license to use? Do they pay to the local government what they are supposed to pay ? What of the state and the federal government ? Don’t we have law that covers mining? . I know it is not yet time for God to intervene ,People are dying silently”, he added.

An Honourable  who begs for anonymity also lamented on how some notable and influential people connive with the natives and loot their precious stones.