The Federal Capital Territory Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps has arrested 51 suspected illegal miners and three suspected telecommunication mast vandals in the territory.

The command spokesperson, Samuel Idoko, stated this in a statement signed on Monday.

According to the statement, the NSCDC FCT Commandant, Olusola Odumosu, disclosed that “51 suspects were arrested in the Gwagwalada area of the FCT for engaging in illegal mining activities.”

Odumosu explained that the suspects, all males, had been profiled and had no evidence of a registered company they were operating under as well as no exploration and mining licence.

“All acts of illegal mining encroach on the soil and cause environmental degradation and erosion and that is why most of these areas are no longer useful for agricultural and human activities,” Odumosu added.

He said that after thoroughly investigating both cases, the suspects would be charged to court for further disciplinary action that will serve as deterrence to others.

Exhibits recovered from the 54 suspects were dismantled metal mast parts and five pumping machines.

“Unquantified amount of substance alleged to be gold dust, pumping hoses, ten litres of fuel, shovels, diggers and head-pan,” the commandant said.

Similarly, Odumosu noted that the three vandalism suspects were apprehended by the Corps of Critical National Assets and Infrastructure unit, following a tip-off of the dismantling activity at the Giri Area by the FCT command intelligence and undercover operatives.

He said that before the decommissioning of any mast, “an approval of such an act must be obtained from the NSCDC being the lead agency in the protection of critical national assets and infrastructure in the country.”

The commandant disclosed that the suspects during interrogation by the Command’s Anti-vandal Unit, were unable to show approval from the Corps.

“Neither do they have any proper means of identification showing who they are and the company they are working for.

“Upon further questioning, they revealed that a certain businessman had already been paid the sum of N4 million ahead for the dismantling which raised suspicion of a premeditated act of vandalism.

“Ongoing investigation is being carried out to determine his level of culpability and ownership claim after which necessary action will be taken,” he said.