Nigeria: Chinese Miners Bribe Nigerian Militants to Access Mineral Reserves in Nigeria
“Chinese mining contractors, who local communities have accused of abuses and paying pitiful wages, often smuggle minerals out of the country illegally and are sometimes arrested,” the report said.
Chinese nationals in the mining sector are allegedly funding Nigerian militant groups to secure access to the country’s mineral reserves, a report has said.
The Times, a British national daily, in a report published on Saturday, said this revelation raises concerns that Beijing could be indirectly funding terror in Africa’s largest economy.
The report claimed that Chinese companies working in parts of Nigeria where attacks are frequent have been striking security deals with insurgents. It added that attacks on Chinese citizens said to be between 100,000 and 200,000 in Nigeria, have become regular occurrences in recent years amid conflicts.
Between 2019 and 2022, the report said 51 Chinese nationals are known to have been kidnapped and three killed, with many more incidents likely to go unreported.
It said the Chinese embassy in Abuja has now urged its citizens to “strengthen the civil defence, physical defence.”
Meanwhile, some Chinese nationals who have worked informally as miners in Zamfara serve as runners for some militant groups in the state and other north-western parts of the country, the report alleged, adding that researchers found that interaction with militants runs so deep that some serve as runners for Chinese miners who have spread throughout Nigeria, controlling digs for gold.
Through bribes and illegal transactions, it said some Chinese nationals have allegedly funded terrorist groups in Nigeria, turning the region into the country’s bloodiest conflict zone.
“Research shared with The Times from SBM Intelligence, a Lagos-based analytical group, has revealed videos on social media and WhatsApp of militant leaders boasting that they are so powerful that Chinese workers wishing to operate in their areas must pay them ‘rent’. They have taken over swathes of northwest Nigeria, turning the region into the country’s bloodiest conflict zone.
“In one pocket of Zamfara, researchers found, interaction with militants runs so deep that some serve as runners for Chinese miners who have spread throughout Nigeria, controlling digs for gold. The country has some of the largest gold reserves in the world.
“Often operating informally in small groups as contractors registered to clearing-house companies, they speak local languages and can stay for years at a time living in remote areas that western companies consider off-limits,” it said.
Chinese mining contractors have also been accused of paying pitiful wages to locals working in their fields and allegedly smuggling minerals out of the country illegally.
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“Chinese mining contractors, who local communities have accused of abuses and paying pitiful wages, often smuggle minerals out of the country illegally and are sometimes arrested.
“In 2020, 27 miners, including 17 said to be Chinese, were arrested in Osun state. Last October a Chinese citizen, Gang Deng, 29, was jailed for five years after being found with 25 tonnes of a mineral thought to be lepidolite, containing lithium, which is used in batteries.
“SBM also found Chinese workers involved in the Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria’s northeast, with a case of a Chinese smuggler being paid to help a jihadist group move metal ore out of the country.”
On Monday, when PREMIUM TIMES reached out to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, an official in the ministry, who did not want to be named, noted that officials could not yet confirm the authenticity of the claim.
“I’m not sure the report is true but give me till evening to confirm this,” the official said.