From Molly kilete, Abuja

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command has arrested  three Chinese  and 18 others, including a community head, for illegal mining in the territory.

The police also alleged that the suspects were aiding the activities of bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements.

The suspects were arrested by operatives of G-7, a joint task force set up by the seven states bordering the FCT to curb activities of bandits, kidnappers and other criminal groups during a raid of  hideouts, camps and areas serving as refuge to miscreants in the area.

The seven states are Kogi, Niger, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue, Plateau states and the FCT.

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According to the police, refined and unrefined gold,  two gold weighing scales, charms, 17 mobile phones, four motorcycles, two dane guns, shovels, cutlasses, two pumping machines, one generator, substances suspected to be cannabis and hard drugs were recovered from the suspects.

FCT police public relations officer, Josephine Adeh, in a statement, said the suspects also confessed to have enjoyed the cooperation of the village head who was also in police net.

Adeh, in the statement, said the arrest, which took place at Matte, Kwali Area Council of FCT, Tuesday night, followed the raid of suspected bandits in the village.

According to her, G7 operatives deployed to reclaim the village came under heavy fire from the suspects during the operation, “the team stormed a camp at Azam village, where an illegal mining site of about 40 minutes’ walking distance from the said village was discovered. The miners who were said to have established a symbiotic relationship with bandits/kidnappers engaged the team in a gun duel and were forced to retreat and were, subsequently, overpowered by the superior firepower of the JTF and they were arrested. The team arrested 21 suspected illegal miners on the sites, including foreign nationals.

“The three male arrested  Chinese  will be officially handed over to the Nigeria Immigration Service, with a view to establishing their immigration status in Nigeria while the two suspects linked with  possession  drugs will be handed over to the NDLEA. Investigation is ongoing while the suspects will soon be  charged to court.”