The Nigerian government on Sunday suspended all forms of mining activities in Zamfara, a northwestern state of the country.
The government also ordered all foreigners engaged in mining activities to leave the area within 48 hours, acting Inspector General of Police Muhammed Adamu told reporters in the capital of Abuja.
The order was part of measures to check banditry in the state, the police chief said.
The suspension, according to Adamu, followed intelligence reports that clearly established a “strong and glaring nexus between the activities of armed bandits and illicit miners.”
The police chief assured the public, especially those in the affected areas, that the security services are doing their best to address the situation.
He said that as part of sustained efforts to flush out “banditry and criminality” in Zamfara in particular and the northwest in general, security services had started “Operation PUFF-ADDER,” a full-scale security offensive against the armed groups.
“Our commitment to protecting the sanctity of life and property is irrevocable, and we will not scale down the pressure on the armed bandits until they are totally flushed out,” Adamu told reporters.
The local government has decried the worsening security situation in the state.
The state of Zamfara, as well as neighboring Kaduna State, have witnessed a series of shootings in recent months.
There have been recurring incidents of livestock rustling and armed banditry in the northwest region of Nigeria.