Why we summoned Ghanaian envoy- FG

The Federal Government has said it summoned the High Commissioner of Ghana to Nigeria, Rashid Bawa to explain reports about the continued refusal of the Ghanaian authorities to reopen about 400 shops belonging to Nigerians in Ghana, which had sparked off protest by National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and Nigerian Union of Traders Association Ghana (NUTAG).

Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, who expressed government dismay over the treatment of Nigerian traders in that country, said, “There had been some horror stories that we have been hearing and a case of suicide of Nigerian lady. And when this broke out the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ghana came here and we were assured that Nigerians were not the target and that efforts were being made to calm the situation.

“Again in New York assurances were made by President Nana Akufo-Addo and we were shown the text that the shops that have been closed that belong to Nigerians would be reopened,”

Onyeama however, expressed concern that there are conflicting reports on the reopening of Nigerian traders shops in Ghana adding that a committee was being set up at a highest level in Nigeria to look into the matter and to look at how the government can respond to the situation.

“And, we said as part of understanding of what the situation is now legally and factually to give this opportunity to brief us on the current situation,” he said.

He said “the Ghanaian envoy was invited to give the opportunity to brief us on current situation” on the closure of Nigerian businesses in that country.

Responding the Ghanaian Commissioner, Bawa said he visited the areas that experienced distress by Nigerian traders and confirmed that about 80 to 85 per cent of shops that were locked had been reopened adding that the exercise in still on going.

He said the Ghanaian authorities are also making efforts to ensure that Nigerian traders who were conducting businesses in Ghana were registered and had resident permits.

“I was in Accra at the invitation of the president to go have a look at what was happening on the ground. I spent two days on the ground, meeting with all stakeholders.

“Some of the shops at the time I visited ten days ago have been opened. Some have not yet been opened. Opening of shops are still on going as we speak.

“Those that have not been opened are locked because owners were not present at their shops. GUTA wants to open the shops with owners present.

“ I can say that about 80-85% of shops that were locked have been opened. We insisted that before shops are open, the owners should be there,” he said.

The High Commissioner also debunked reports that the Nigerian in Ghana, Stella Upaleke, committed suicide because of frustration occasioned by the closure of her shop.

“I was with the regional police commander where the issue happened. The police statement, written by the husband and daughter of the woman, indicated that the suicide was not as a result of the lock up of her shop,” he said.

Although a former Secretary General of Nigerian Union of Traders Association Ghana (NUTAG), Jasper Emenike, confirmed that some shops had actually been reopened, he however, posited that some Nigerian traders refused to show up because of alleged harassment by Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).

He urged that the Ghanaian authorities to reduce the cost of registering business and to be more circumspect in the implementation of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) Act as it concerns Nigerian traders.

He said that the costs were in contrary with the spirit and letters of ECOWAs free movement protocol.

He also appealed that the government stop the relocation of Nigerian traders from their shops.

“We want to appeal that, in furtherance to the efforts being made, there is need to put a permanent end to this issue.

“There is also the need to stop charging Nigerian citizens I.D card fees, which cost 120 dollars for registration and 60 dollars for renewal every year,” he said.

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Author: Editor