Nigeria: Another 28 Deaths From Lead Poisoning | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigeria: Another 28 Deaths From Lead Poisoning

Posted: May 25, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Recently the media was awash with news of the death of 17 girls and 11 boys, most of them under five years, in Niger State as a result of Lead poisoning. According to the Minister of State for Health, Fidelis Nwankwo, they were among 68 Nigerians who got poisoned by coming in consistent direct contact with Lead as a result of illegal mining operations in their community until the amount in their systems became a contamination that endangered their health. Recall that Lead poisoning had affected the health of 2000 people leading to the death of 400 in Zamfara State in 2011.

That this sad, painful and avoidable occurrence happened a second time shows negligence and lack of care amongst the Agencies that have the dnty of monitoring mining activities in Nigeria. 

It appears no one is asking questions because we have not heard the Civil Liberties Organisations (CLO), Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA), Consumer Protection Agency (CPA), Ministry of Health or any Legal Body asking questions about what really happened. Even the Veterinary Society of Nigeria (VSN) has accepted the death of animals poisoned by Lead as natural! It is even more painful that the local government chairmen, the politicians and the village heads in those localities where the incidents occurred are quiet about the sordid incidents.


Presently, mining in Nigeria is done primarily by foreigners who do not have any patriotic feelings for Nigeria, save the money made from the sale of the mined products. We wonder if there are any agencies monitoring the activities of these people, and what agreements took place before the mining started. Perhaps, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development needs to come up with a monitoring policy that would check the excessive degradation of the environment that these illegal miners are wrecking on the host communities. This will create a forum for sanctioning erring companies and compel them to bear the cost of remediation, if the land becomes degraded or contaminated.

The Ministry of Health should begin a sensitisation campaign in the affected areas to let the people know the danger they are in, so that they do not ascribe such deaths to the anger of the gods of their land. Let us not forget that Lead poisoning can, apart from death, cause acute fever, convulsions, loss of consciousness and blindness, with anaemia, kidney failure and brain damage among the long-term effects.

But beyond this, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development must wake up to its mandate of spurring the Nigerian government towards rapid and beneficial development of the country’s solid mineral resources.