Nigeria lost $3bn to gold smuggling in seven years

Nigeria lost to gold smuggling in seven years || Nigeria lost about $3bn (£2.4bn) from 97 tonnes of gold illegally smuggled out of the country in the seven years up to 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.

He made the disclosure on Thursday in his speech during the official presentation of gold bars produced thanks to a presidential initiative to help small-scale miners.

The initiative, launched last year to reform the sector, would support jobs especially for artisanal miners, creating about 250,000 jobs from improved gold mining operations, the president said.

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The country also stood to earn $500m annually in royalties and taxes, he added.

Mr Buhari himself was presented with a locally produced 12.5kg gold bar worth $691,000, which was purchased by the central bank.

President Filipe Nyusi dashed the hopes of Mozambicans hoping he would ease restrictions imposed at the beginning of April to stop the spread of coronavirus.

In his speech to the nation on Thursday evening he made it clear that fro now it remained compulsory to wear face masks in public and the ban on all meetings attended by more than 20 people – including sporting, social or religious activities – remained in place.

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He had come under strong pressure from religious groups to allow the reopening of churches and other places of worship.

Some religious dignitaries even threatened to boycott discussions on a draft law on religious freedom unless places of worship were re-opened.

But the president did not bend, stressing that religious services remained suspended until churches could provide safe and hygienic conditions for their worshippers.

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He said the same went for schools, which were supposed to start a phased re-opening on 27 July.

The president stressed the need for schools to be able to guarantee adequate water and sanitation, and the conditions to ensure social distancing.

While this does not specifically rule out some classes for final year secondary students resuming at the end of the month, it now seems most unlikely to happen.

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