The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested 13 Chinese nationals for allegedly engaging in illegal mining activities in Ilorin, Kwara State.

The anti-graft agency disclosed this in a statement on Thursday by its Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren.

According to Uwujaren, the 12 male and one female suspects were arrested on July 12, at the Government Reserved Area, Ilorin.

He said their arrest followed “credible intelligence about their activities, which included but not limited to, illegal mining and non-payment of royalties to the Federal Government as required by law.”

“The suspects are Guo Wang (36), Lizli Hui (42), GuoRong (36), LizhXianian (37), Lishow Wu (26), Guo Pan (38), Lia Meiyu (53), GuoQuan (36) Lin Pan (50)

“Others are Ma Jan (38), Wendy Suqin (31), Li Zhinguo Wei (29) and XieZhinguo (53),” the EFCC spokesman said.

He explained that “prior to their arrest, discrete investigations on the activities of illegal mining operators in Kwara State revealed that the operators have different illegal mining sites in almost all the 16 local government areas of the state.”

Uwujaren said, “Upon interrogation, the arrested suspects confessed to being workers of a Chinese company known as W. Mining Global Service Limited situated at Olayinka in the Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State.

“It was gathered that the company was using the illegally-mined crude to produce marble and sell locally within Nigeria.

“Findings also revealed that some of the suspects, working in the said company, were without work permits, but only came with ‘visit permit’ from China to Abuja and travelled by road to Ilorin.”

The EFCC spokesman said the suspects acted contrary to and were liable to be punished under Section 1(8) (b) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, 1983.

He said the suspects would be arraigned upon the conclusion of investigations, which had already begun.

The acting Chairman of the EFCC, AbdulkarimChukkol, had on July 6, 2023, during a one-day media training for journalists in Kwara State, lamented illegal mining in Kwara State, describing it as a grave threat to local and national economy.

The Ilorin Zonal Command of the EFCC said it had in the last eight months arrested no fewer than 80 illegal operators.

It added that it recovered 24 truckloads of assorted minerals from illegal miners.

The anti-graft agency warned that it would be unrelenting in its fight against corruption and leave no stone unturned in the efforts to break the illegal mining rings across the country.