The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps said its operatives arrested 34 suspects for allegedly carrying out illegal mining operations in Rumuokarali/Rumualogu community in the 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 Port Harcourt, where he allegedly tried to defile her.
The NSCDC Commandant in the state, Basil Igwebueze, disclosed this while parading the suspects before newsmen in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Igwebueze explained that the arrests were made possible through credible intelligence and the efforts of the patrol team of the NSCDC, the Solid Minerals Unit, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel, and the Ministerial Task Force on Illegal Mining.
Igwebueze said officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Department of State Services, the police and the Nigeria Immigration Service were part of the operation.
He said, “The 34 suspects were caught in the act of dredging sharp sands illegally, thereby causing environmental degradation in the area; 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 commandant said thorough investigations would be carried out to ascertain the level of involvement of each suspect after which they would be charged.