Extractive Sector: Centre Decries Use Of Underage Girls As Arms Couriers

The African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre-LSD) has condemned the alleged use of underage girls as arms couriers and illegal mineral smugglers in the extractive sector in the country.

The centre said this at a news conference on the official close out of the centre’s build grant of the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Extractive Sector in Nigeria.

The Executive Director, Centre-LSD, Mr Monday Osasah, said that in the last six years, the centre had been working in six states namely Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara, cutting across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.

Osasah added the centre discovered a lot of challenges around Gender-Based Violence (GBV) yet there was no clear statistics to highlight it.

He said that the centre decided to carry out research on GBV in the extractive sector in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) with a grant from the Ford Foundation.

“We decided to interact with the system and structures that marginalised women in fully participating in the sector and put girls in danger in the extractive sector which included sexual abuse, domestic violence, threats among others.

“Like the research revealed that there was the use of underage girls’ arms couriers and illegal mineral smugglers among others.

“So, we engaged the system to create a policy document on GBV that can influence advocacy in the National Assembly, and other relevant stakeholders.

“This is so that the existing law can be tinkered with to reflect the reality on the ground.

“The research has helped Nigeria to have concrete data in the extractive industry,” he said.

Osasah said that with time, the centre hoped to get enough funding so as to expand to all the states in the nation to have sufficient data that can always be referred to.

Dr Akin Oke, Lead consultant, Easy Data and one of the researchers, said that available evidence from the research identified patriarchy and male-dominated culture as drivers of GBV in the extractive sector.

Oke said that the most prevalent forms of GBV in mining communities were domestic violence-31 per cent, forced marriage-15 per cent and sexual abuse-14 per cent.

“However, there is a study-defined category that highlighted other forms of GBV being experienced in the communities which include rights violation in terms of safety concerns and lack of protective materials not provided.

“Others are economic abuse, women being paid less than men for similar tasks on mining sites, women and girls driven from sites with threats of rape and sexual abuse.

“There is also manipulation of underage girls for sexual favours, underage girls’ arms couriers and illegal mineral smugglers,” he said.

Oke said that the study, therefore,  recommended specific actions required of the government, civil groups and other stakeholders in addressing GBV in the extractive sector, such as sustained advocacy for policy review.

Ms Olayinka Marthins, Director of Development, Centre-LSD, said that in January 2021, the Centre began the implementation of the BUILD grant for strengthening an intersectional approach to gender and natural resources management.

Marthins said that the project aimed at strengthening institutions, programmed interventions, capacity building among others.

She said that the Centre recorded several results from this intervention in one year some of which included an increase in the number of female employees in mining companies.

She said that others included compliance with statutory regulations in the mining act section 9 (1) officer, improved livelihood among others.


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