Senate Orders Probe Into Lead Poisoning In Zamfara


ABUJA, June 30, (THEWILL) - Three standing committees of the Senate, Solid Minerals, Environment and Health have been ordered to investigate the circumstances surrounding the lead poisoning outbreak in Zamfara State.

The incident, which broke out a month ago reportedly, claimed 160 lives, most of whom were children below the age of five. The Senate's decision was sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Sahabi Ya'u and 27 others. The Senators also condoled with the families of the victims, while observing with grave concern the poisoning incident, particularly in the villages of Anka and Bukkuyum Local Government areas.

However, the Senators after observing a minute silence in honour of the victims described the incident as avoidable adding that with proper sensitization of the people on the danger of illegal mining, the sad event would have been avoided.

Presenting the motion, Senator Ya'u, observed that the dangerous situation was occasioned by activities of illegal mining of iron ore by villagers who ignorantly took crushed rocks home from the mine to extract precious stones, thus resulting in the soil being contaminated from lead.

"As a result the victims became vulnerable to their contaminated hands and mouth, while others were contaminated by contacts with contaminated tools and water," Ya’u said.

The Senator feared that the poisoning which has both social and economic effects on the lives of the citizens in different ways especially in the areas of inability to procreate and loss of livestock and crops.

To underscore the need for a drastic action to be taken to avoid a re-occurrence, Ya'u revealed that the lead poisoning is a medical condition caused by increased levels of heavy metal lead in the body, which interferes with a variety of body processes which is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidney, the nervous and reproductive systems.

Nonetheless, he expressed happiness that the government had already banned the activities of illegal miners in the area and is carrying out environmental clean-up exercise and clinical tests on all the people in the affected communities.

Senator Adego Eferakeya (PDP, Delta), while contributing to the debate noted that children were particularly affected by the poisoning as a result of their immature brain, which easily absolves the poisoning, adding that children died of lead as a result of serious convulsion.

Also speaking, Senator Sulayman Adokwe (PDP, Nasarawa) lamented that mining in the country is dominated by illegal activities irrespective of the laws on ground, unlike what is happening in Europe.

Senator Patrick Osakwe on his part observed that the state government has not done enough and ought to have done more, adding that the state government took things for granted.

In his submission, Senator Joy Danlami pointed out that federal government is not handling the issue with the sense of urgency that it deserved, adding that till date government has not inaugurated the committee it set up to look into the issue. 

Senator Ahmed Yerima called on government to declare a state of emergency around the area, stressing that, "up till now federal government has not done anything by sending relief to the affected people."