The Zamfara State government has denied claims of trading in gold with the Central Bank of Nigeria, as well as owning the resources deposit in the state.
Zailani Baffa, the spokesperson to the state governor, Bello Matawalle, gave the disclaimer in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday.
The state government explained that it does not directly mine the gold for itself, but purchases the gold from the federal government registered mining companies in the state.
“The attention of Zamfara State Government has been drawn to a shocking and disappointing reaction in the media where a known Lawyer displayed ignorance of law regarding the recent revelation made by His Excellency, Governor Bello Mohammed (Matawallen Maradun) over mining in the state.
“The state government is not directly mining the gold for itself. It will rather purchase the gold from the Federal Government registered mining companies in the state. Surely, all Nigerians are aware that the Federal Government is in the process of re-registering qualified companies allowed to mine mineral resources in the state on its behalf, just as it is obtained in the oil sector
The state government gave the announcement in reaction to a statement attributed to a human rights lawyer Joseph Silas seeking the cancellation of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) purchase of gold worth 5 billion Naira from Zamfara State government.
Mr Salis described such purchase as “the highest insult on the sensitivities of Nigerians,” TheNigeriaLawyer newspaper reported on Friday.
He said, “The Zamfara state government has no gold to sell, the gold is for the federal government, and CBN is not permitted by its enabling Act to engage in the business of buying solely commercial goods.”
Citing section 1(4) of the CBN Act, 2007, the lawyer said the law permits the bank to acquire, hold and dispose of movable and immovable property does not extend to engaging in a business venture such as the purchase of gold.
But in its release, Mr Baffa explained that “The fact is that the CBN, just like in Agriculture, is willing to invest in mining as part of an anchor-borrowers scheme where the apex Bank will invest the said amount for the state Government to supply it with the gold as a proceed of the investment. This is aimed at boosting the mining sector in the country, which is within the provisions of the scheme
“To further enlighten the Lawyer and those who think alike, the Central Bank of Nigeria did not enter into any trade agreement with Zamfara state Government as claimed by the Lawyer.
“It is, therefore, disheartening that educated Nigerians will react to issues of national importance in the media, dictated from the sentiments of their hearts rather than the facts digested from their brains.
“Zamfara State Government, therefore, wishes to assure all Nigerians that it will abide by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and use same as a guide to the management of mineral deposits in the state.”
The Zamfara State government had established the first of its kind gold reserve in Nigeria, starting with 31 kg of processed gold, a step considered towards actualising Nigeria economic diversification from on crude oil for foreign exchange earnings and government revenues.
Mr Matawalle recently took some of the gold bars to President Muhammadu Buhari, where the president said it was the first time anyone physically showed him the Zamfara gold.