Adeosun Aminat, a worshipper of the Osun grove went to the river before sunrise in the morning to worship the river. She noticed a sudden change in the colour of the river as a result of mining activities by miners in the Osun community.

Aminat was unhappy with the disheartening activities carried out by the miners because the river which flows across the state is what some of the residents of the community use for their daily activities. She noted that Osun residents are afraid of drinking and using the flowing river because of the contamination caused by miners.

The Osun river has been experiencing turbulence over the unprofessional mining activities done in it since March 2020, leaving everyone worried about the cause of the pollution.

Aminat revealed that in 2020 during covid 19 when everyone was on lockdown, various miners polluted the water by creating a pit in the water and diverting the stream that is leading to river to another direction, and without returning it back to the river, it caused contamination to the water.

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Aminat told the Harbinger that the goddess revealed to them that the miners are bedevilled but can’t ascertain the tribulations facing them in different ways.

For Aminat, she attributed the pollution to the negligent attitude of the government, explaining that the government are aware of the pollution.

Scientists have proven that Water pollution is an international phenomenon and one of the fundamental issues in many developing nations including Africa.

It is discovered that many areas of groundwater and other sources of water are contaminated with heavy metals, chronic organic pollution, and waste materials that have a destructive effect on public health and the environment.

Osun river flows southward through Central Yorubaland in southwestern Nigeria into the Lagos lagoon and Atlantic Gulf of Guinea.

The river flows through the dense forest in Osun osogbo sacred grove.Osun water contamination has been a catastrophic condition across the south west states of the country for the past two years, since 2020.

Different reports and investigations have seen people complaining how it affects the colour of the water and contaminated the river.

According to the UNEP data a fifth of the world’s river basins are experiencing dramatic fluctuations in water availability, and 2.3 billion people are living in countries categorized as “water-stressed,” including 721 million in areas where the water situation is “critical,”

How it Started.

An investigation by the Cable revealed that the illegal mining started in 2020, during the lockdown. As the report had it, the contamination had impoverished some fishermen, as over 500 of them were stunned about what’s being mined to let the water devoid of fish.

Different fishermen explained the rate of poverty caused by this form of environmental pollution, and it backwash. With the cable report, it is traceable that the pollution started in ijesha land.

The land is known for large gold deposits, including other minerals.Recall that in a report by daily post different stakeholders have agitated that the government should help regulate law limiting the illegal activities of the gold miners and put an end to illegal mining in Osun state.

Stakeholders like the Team Lead of Urban Alert, Mr Anthony Adejuwon, a monarch Atorin-Ijesa, Omololu Toye Afilaka, a traditionalist in Osun State, the President of Women in Mining in Nigeria, Engr. Janet Adeyemi, the Executive Director of Global Rights, Ms. Abiodun Bayiewu, and a Senior Lecturer at the Federal University of Agriculture, Ogun State, Dr. Temitope Olaifa, among others.

Worshippers Take on The Contamination.

On getting to the river, this reporter met different people which include the residents and those that came for spiritual healing from the goddess, Yeye Osun.

It’s amazing that despite the outcry of the people and despite how polluted the water is , people still come to make supplications to the goddess and it always grant their request.

At the grove, one of the visitors who came to make a petition to the goddess on childbearing, with the bigi cola in her hand was asked to pour it on the goddess to make supplications, which she did.

Osunfunke Ajoke as she called herself with the title “Eworo Osun” noted that despite the contamination of the water, the goddess answers their supplication and grant their wishes.

Also, a worshipper Osungbede Ajoke disclosed to the Harbinger that the miners have been warned, stating that it doesn’t affect their supplication but the colour of the water has changed and it’s not usable for those using it in the town.

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The Government Should Create Awareness on Mining, Enforce Law: NGO, Urban Alert.

The team lead of Urban Alert, a non-governmental organization in Osun State, Adejuwon Tony has charged the government to create awareness for the people.

In an interview with Tony, he said “the contamination of the Osun river is a very big issue in Osun state and fast spreading to other parts of the South. Osun river is the major body, from Ekiti state to Osun, Oyo and to Lagos state. The water is very important to the people of the southwest”.

“In 2018 when the changes began, it is unusual to see the river changes it’s color, as a result of heavy downpour of rain, since then residence initially felt what’s going on and couldn’t ascertain the problem and the elements that led to the pollution of the water until our organisation, urban alert came onboard to carry out several scientific investigation around the colour in the river and since then it’s been a very big case in the history of southwest and Nigeria at large, through the world recently”

In his words, Adejuwon said it is an injustice to compare minors making use of light equipment for their work and the big boys using excavators, washers and any other equipment to carry out their activities.

However, he affirmed that the contamination is caused by illegal gold miners in Osun state, adding that the illegal miners and not the licensed ones are bringing trouble and degrading Osun Land.

Speaking further, Tony reiterated that when the government agencies work towards the change in the water, there won’t be a problem and the miners can continue to work.

He said “We can begin to look at the extant law that protects the environment, that governs mining in Nigeria and on the international level to ensure that things like this do not happen to our environment, and do not expose host communities to terrible problems like it is currently happening.”

He explained that mining is alien to the people of the state, so the government need to create awareness and enlighten the citizen”For the past decades, mining is more common in the North European countries, people don’t really attach any seriousness to mining, people see miners as just a disturbance. It has blown up more than 15, 000 miners in Osun.

The government needs to enlighten the people to know things associated with mining, the government need to tell the people their right, civil society organisation like ours, individual and environmental activists like me need to come up and let the people know the problem awaiting the thems if activities of miners has continue to grow within Osun state”

Moreso, Tony noted in his words that they informed the minister for environment, and also informed UNESCO about it but nothing has been done, stating that they as an organization has nothing to do to it, We don’t have the legal backing to solve the problem, it’s the responsibility of the government to protect the lives and properties of the people, we are playing our part as an organization to inform the government of the impending danger of injection of direct contact with the Osun river, we are still engaging the government.

Yesterday we still had a meeting with the deputy chief of staff to the governor and the man at the helms if6 affair of the environment, in Osun state”.

The team lead concluded that the government should enforce the law protecting the environment and mining, and detoxifying the water bodies.

“Osun river is not the only contaminated river in Osun state, we still have the Opa river that flows to ile ife, that flows to Obafemi Awolowo University, owena river and others.

We can now talk about restoring the rivers and reclaiming the land. These miners have opened up and have refused to stop They should ensure that people that are not licensed do not operate and take what belongs to the people, everything is on the table of the government to do.

It is the responsibility of the government, the mining act 2007 is so robust to take the illegal miners away from the community” he noted

Environmental Protection Law Has been Passed and no Mining is Going on: Director of Environment.

In a visit to the office of the Director of environmental health representing the Minister of environment, Biola Oni noted that the activities of the miners has been stopped in the state and environmental protection law has been passed.

“Currently no mining is going on, we have stopped them. They have been asked to stop working. Our environmental protection law was just passed this week, we can’t punish anybody without law, the law now stipulates punishment for environment polluters. Going forward, whoever is caught at midnight without international best practices, if you destroy the environment you will be dealt with.”

While speaking further, Mr Biola affirmed that majority of the miners are licensed , stating that they are not just doing it the way it should be done. He explained that mining is a big business which involves huge amounts of money to start, and some of the miners lack the financial capabilities to practise it legally, hence it causes haphazard practices.

In his words, Oni expatiated on how the miners polluted the water, he said “the way mining is done, they create a pit, divert the stream that is leading to river Osun, they divert them to the pit created and when they finish they don’t return it back to river Osun”

Biola Oni elucidated that thousands of the pits have been burrowed for gold mining, and the streams are truncated at various intervals to run them to their pit, to wash it, explaining that they are the things that are contributing to the mud that is in the Osun river.

His words “Effort is in touch to reclaim all those diversions and stop them from being diverted to the pit. The river Osun will go back to It’s normal pure form”.

“When they burrow the pit to mine, the pit is being diverted. The effort is to stop all the diversions and the streams that the feeding river Osun to go directly to there.

The consultant is already set to do the job but we’re in the rainy season, the job might be difficult because of the way the river is flowing now. All the diversion will be corrected and the Osun river will give us it’s natural purity”.

The Director however pleaded with the people to exercise patience as the problem didn’t happen in a day and would take a long time to be processed.

He said “unfortunately mining is not under the state control but the federal government, and it took us time to get the federal government to see reasons the mining should stop. we’ll bring it back to it’s natural purity, they should be patient and bear with the government, the government is on top of it. “Before now there has not been any law against them.

However, Abiola urged the gold miners to stop polluting the environment, “if they want to mine gold, do it in line with the international best practices, in a way that you don’t demolish our environment”

Boluwatife Adedokun is a passionate journalist, who writes to ameliorate societal ills. As a young journalist, she aims to have a society devoid of corruptions by righting the wrongs with the power of pen. Her enthusiasm towards speaking for the masses has engendered her publication in different national dailies and she wish to be more impactful through her stories.

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