34 suspects have been arrested by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
They were nabbed for allegedly carrying out illegal mining operations in Rumuokarali/ Rumualogu community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Also, the Corps said a man identified as ‘Daniel Mathew’, was arrested for luring a 15-year-old girl to a hotel in China, near Port Harcourt, and allegedly tried to defile her.
The NSCDC Commandant, Rivers State Command, Basil Igwebueze, disclosed this while parading the suspects before newsmen in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
Igwebueze explained that the arrests were made possible through credible intelligence and the efforts of the patrol team of the NSCDC Sold Minerals Unit, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel, and the Ministerial Task Force on illegal mining.
Igwebueze disclosed that the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Department of State Services, the Nigerian Police, and the Nigeria Immigration Service were part of the operation.
He stated that men of the NSCDC and the aforementioned agencies immediately swung into action and apprehended the suspects while perpetrating the act.
Commandant Igwebueze stated, “With the collaborative efforts of our men, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel and the Ministerial Task Force on illegal mining which includes the EFCC NSCDC, DSS, Nigeria Police, and Immigration Service, the 34 suspects were caught in the act of dredging sharp sands illegally thereby causing environmental degradation in the area and three dredging machines were retrieved at the crime scene
“In addition, a Chinese man was sighted at the scene of the crime as information revealed that he is notorious for engaging in illegal mining activities.
“He however escaped through the back gate of a nearby Hotel in Choba, Obio/Akpo Local Government Area.
“While tracing the suspect, our personnel heard the cry of a young lady who said her sister aged 15 had been lured into one of the hotel rooms.
“After a thorough search, our men were able to rescue the 15-year-old girl from the hand of one Mr. Daniel Mathew who is now in custody and currently under interrogation.”
The state Commandant said thorough investigations would be carried out to ascertain the level of involvement of each suspect, after which they will be charged in court.
Igwebueze advised qmembers of the public to report all acts of criminality or suspicious movement in their neighbourhood to the NSCDC and other security agencies for prompt action.
The state NSCDC Commandant assured residents that any information volunteered would be treated with utmost confidentiality, saying, “If you see something please say something.”