Uproar In Osun As Illegal Immigrant Invade State From Mali



The inexplicable influx of thousands of illegal miners from Mali, a Francophone West African country into Osun State has been generating apprehension among the residents of the state.

Investigation by Newsmen revealed that between April 2017 and February 2019, no fewer than six thousand illegal miners from Bamako, the capital of Mali and it’s environs migrated to Ijesa land, in the Osun East senatorial district to work as labourers at the various illegal mining sites located in the area.

It was deduced that the immigrants have taken advantage of porous Nigerian land borders to enter the country in droves, not minding that they do not possess legal documents that support their expedition in the country.

A security source, who preferred anonymity because he is not authorised to speak on the issue said those illegal miners from Mali have been linked with several criminal activities, ranging from highway robberies to kidnappings among others.

He blamed the Nigeria Immigration Service for not living up to expectation in their statutory obligation of regulating and monitoring migration into the country.

He explained that the way the illegal migrants besiege the state without check and action, there appears to be no immediate solution to security challenges facing the state.

He added that the government has been scratching the issue on the surface rather than tackling it from the root in order to get the desired result.

“The state is sitting on the keg of gunpowder with this large number of Malians coming into the state without steps to stop them and also regulate their activities. We even learnt many of them are just disguising as miners while in the actual fact they are criminal elements that continue to terrorise innocent citizens in the state.

” It was gathered that the early set of miners who came into the state around 2017 were the ones who invited some of their friends who have criminal tendencies and started unleashing terrors on the people.

“I believe many of the security agencies working in the state are aware of this through their intelligence gathering mechanism, otherwise there is little or nothing to be achieved in the efforts to stamp out insecurity in the state.

“You will agree with me that Mali is one of the most volatile countries in West Africa, that is the base of Alshabab, deadly Islamic extremists carrying out nefarious activities in the country up till Kenya in the East Africa region .

“I think it is pertinent to look into this security threat and take action without delay before it degenerates further”.

Chief Edward Ajagunla, a resident of Ibodi, one of the communities with multiple illegal mining sites and densely populated by miners from Mali said the community is under the siege of foreigners who worked at the illegal mining sites.

He lamented the influx of these foreigners into the community, saying every resident of the community is apprehensive over the development.

He explained that majority of miners working in the community and adjourning villages are from Mali and appear very hostile to the people of the area.

“We have kept mute for long, especially our royal fathers who ordinarily should be the custodians of our common heritage and have the responsibility of complementing government’s efforts in protecting lives and property.

“The population of these foreigners here in Ibodi, Itakumodi, Ijana-wasare, Igun-ijesa, Gona and other adjourning villages are more than ten thousand.

“In fact, there is a direct bus from here in Ibodi to Bamako in Mali, to tell you the free flow of traffic between the two countries outside the National Immigration law that tends to regulate such activities.

“There have been several accusations against these people that many of them are responsible for different levels of security breaches in Osun State, especially within this axis, I mean along Ilesa -Akure expressroad.

“Some of our people have hinted the Police in the past that there are weapon-wielding individuals among those who call themselves miners, and that many of those who claimed to have come for mining job were actually doing other things and not the business”.

Meanwhile, a civil society organisation working in the state, Advocacy for Peace in Africa has expressed concern over the issue, citing various criminal activities in the past that linked heavy presence of foreigners in the area with insecurity.

The state Coordinator of the organisation in Osun, Comrade Sunday Adams opined that plethora accounts of victims of kidnappings and robberies along Akure -Ibadan expressway have given credence to the suspicion that some of those migrants from Mali, who claimed to have come to work at mining sites were also responsible for criminal activities along the highway.

Adams said:” You remember what the Professor from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-ife, who was kidnapped along that road recently said, that those who kidnapped him were of Fulani extractions, that they carried highly sophisticated weapons and were speaking French.

“That singular revelation laid credence to the concern of many discerning residents in the state that many of those miners from Mali, who came into the state for mining jobs are criminals terrorising innocents Nigerians on that road.

“The description of that varsity lecturer rightly depicts those people from Mali, they are predominantly French-speaking Fulani, and because of the activities of Alshabab in that country, there is a high level of proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

“Also, an eye witness at the scene where a local government worker was killed by armed men in Ikire, a location very close to the place in which the professor was kidnapped gave the same account of a set of criminals wielding highly sophisticated weapons and communicating in French.

“So, it is obvious that the state has been infiltrated by foreign criminals without any positive move by security agencies to nip such in the bud and keep the state safe”.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Folashade Odoro in her reaction said although some arrests were made in the past, there was no specific identification of any suspect as Malian.

“I cannot specifically state that any National from Mali was arrested, I can’t remember we made such arrest “, Odoro said.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Immigration Service, Osun Command declined comment when contacted for reaction.

A senior officer in the command who pleaded anonymity confided in our Correspondent that nothing much has been done to check the influx of illegal migrants mainly from Mali into the State.

He however claimed that some arrests were made sometimes ago, saying the command under the former Controller of Immigration Service in the state, Idowu Adebowale “deported those suspects without trial.”

It was learnt that Adebowale, who recently retired from service embarked on terminal leave on February 28, 2019, while a new CIS, Mr U. P. Isah resumed office last week Wednesday.

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