For a Safer Earth, Healthier Climate

Child Labour: MMC Comes to the Rescue of 13-Year-Old Mining Accident Victim

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

That mining is one of the worst human labors, most particularly for a child is not news as the unfortunate story of 13-year-old Comfort Ezekiel is told.

Just recently, the Kogi Women Miners Welfare Association released gory images of a survivor miner-girl who escaped death by the whiskers in an avoidable tragedy that consumed the lives of her colleagues. This release was done at the International Women’s Day celebration event anchored by the Africa Minerals and Miners Center (MMC)’s Initiative for Women Miners in Africa (IWoMA).

The event which took place on March 8, 2024, was aimed at sensitizing women, minerals ore off-takers, and general stakeholders on the need to ensure responsible social and economic mining practices in rural communities where women and girls are the majority artisanal workers in mine sites.

As told, the young survivor Comfort Ezekiel earned one thousand Nara (N1000) daily for manually loading crushed rocks onto a truck. As a humble response to the economic sabotage, to be able to afford school fees and to be able to feed for the day on a typical day in their family life. The poor girl and her colleagues after breaking and loading Felspar on this day staked their lives, climbed the loaded truck, and sat on the stones to get a lift to their destination to save some token.

The truck collided with another trailer and the rocks they helped to load, crushed them as they fell off the truck with the boulders sadly flying over them as well, instantly killing some of her colleagues in the process.

Comfort, now amputated, is a native of Ajaokuta Local Government Area of Kogi State. She spent one year in the hospital and was supported by the Kogi Women Miners Welfare Association headed by Mrs Janet Ogoru Ahiaba, who saw to it that the girls and women were treated at the hospital no matter what it took including depositing her car with the hospital as collateral to treat the girls while she sourced for funds for the hospital bills to see through the hospital bills and with the help of a few Nigerians, the girls where treated.

MMC’s Initiative for Women Miners in Africa (IWoMA) has awarded Comfort a scholarship to return to school and leave the mines. With the challenges, Comfort who now has to learn how to write with the left hand, has thankfully agreed to return to school and complete her secondary education as awarded in the Scholarship and probably study a course related to Natural resources and do better next time. The Director of MMC, Dr Comfort Asokoro – Ogaji reiterated in an interview that “Comfort Ezekiel my namesake will make us proud even with her condition. She is left-handed and has an issue with her legs but certainly not her brain. She will succeed despite the challenges by the grace of God. “

Another girl involved in the accident and still at home with her scars is Helen Chiloba a 13-year-old girl who also spent a year in the hospital needs to return to school as a matter of urgency but one donor cannot do much.

Helen hails from Bassa LGA in Kogi State and has been active in the mines through the help of her Aunt in Ajaokuta LGA, who accommodated her until the accident. She has now returned to Odugbo village.

The Centre calls on miners to embrace responsible mining, saying that off-takers of mineral ores in mining communities where women and girls are the miners, should trade responsibly in the interest of fairness to the locals most especially women and girls. The Local Government Area Councils should also take on their obligations to educate their miners on the standard practices. In her remark, ” To do the right things at the local government and state levels is not capital intensive, does not require huge funds, what it requires is the commitment to serve the people and zoom into the villages and communities and get down to work. There should be consistent training organized by the local and state governments in solid minerals trading, agriculture, and other aspects of the economy that ought to boost the livelihood of the people and not lead them to their graves. We are all humans and should have human feelings and be concerned about these women”.

Mrs. Janet was honored with The “Gold Lifesaving Award by the MMC’s Initiative for Women Miners in Africa. To encourage her to do more in organizing the women and ensure adherence to safety rules at the mines.

Mrs Janet was honored with The “Gold Lifesaving Award by the MMC’s Initiative for Women Miners in Africa. To encourage her to do more in organizing the women and ensure adherence to safety rules at the mines.

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