Nigeria, UAE in talks to track illegal gold trade - THE NATION
Fed Govt assures of completion of Ajaokuta steel before 2023
By Ambrose Nnaji
The Federal Government, in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has agreed to track huge illegal movement of gold from Nigeria to Dubai, the Minister, Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, has said.
The minister made this known at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum in Abuja.
He noted that huge quantity of gold were being moved from Nigeria illegally daily to Dubai, adding that the gold passed through UAE police freely, but that unknown to them royalties were not paid to Nigeria.
”The UAE collect their own charges on gold that arrived in Dubai airport but the Nigerian government has told UAE to ask anyone entering Dubai with Nigeria’s gold to present a certificate of exportation got from Nigeria before allowing them to pass. We have agreed with UAE to seize any gold from Nigeria without certificate of exportation; we told them that the value of the gold will be shared equally as an incentive for UAE to eradicate illegal exportation of gold from Nigeria to Dubai,he added.
“All we expected from whoever that is travelling from Nigeria to Dubai with our raw gold is to pay royalty to the Nigerian government and such person will be given certificate of exportation.The certificate of exportation will be automatically integrated into the Nigeria Customs Services system, our law accepts exportation of gold but royalty must be paid,” he said.
Also, Adegbite said the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited will function to capacity before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He said the Federal Government had made efforts to ensure that the Russian company that built the steel firm would come to Nigeria to conduct technical audit it.
According to him, the Russian team would have been in Nigeria since last year for the audit but COVID-19 pandemic distorted the plan.
It would be recalled that the minister had earlier said a 60-man team from Russia would arrive in the country to start the audit of Ajaokuta Steel Company. The agreement on how to revive the steel company was reached during a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Vladimir Putin in Russia in 2019.
The Russian government had nominated TPE, the original builder of Ajaokuta Steel Company, to conduct the audit of the steel company to ascertain the level of work remaining to be completed on the steel company.
However, the minister said the main purpose of the steel company when it was conceived and built was to produce liquid steel, adding that the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) was set up at Itakpe in Kogi State to feed it with iron ore.
He explained that liquid steel could be used for building aeroplane and car engine parts, among others.