Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, has blamed illegal miners for the killings in Zamfara State.
Mohammed made the comments when he featured on the Nigerian Television Authority Programme, Good Morning Nigeria, in Abuja on Wednesday.
On April 7, the Nigerian government had prohibited illegal mining operations in Zamfara State after nationwide protests over the killings, an action the Minister feels is justified.
“People begin to ask what is the nexus between instability in Zamfara, kidnapping and banditry and illegal mining," he said.
“There is a lot. For instance, if you are doing illegal mining, the more unsettled the area, is the better for you. We find out that a lot of ammunition and money were being turned out to the bandits so as to make the area ungovernable. The higher the rate of the crisis, the better for the illegal miners."
Mohammed said the commencement of Operation Puff Adder, a full-scale security offensive against the bandits, has yielded results in the past weeks.
“We have a harvest of criminals, many of them arrested, their actions neutralised and cache of ammunition recovered," he said.
“On April 14, they neutralised 11 kidnappers, recovered six AK-47, and 1,200 rounds of ammunition. Shortly after that, they were able to arrest those who kidnapped the Channels Television correspondent."