Nigeria has expressed concern over the continued closure of Nigerians shops in Ghana two weeks after President Koffi Nana-Akudo gave the order to reopen them.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said in Abuja when the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) led by its President, Ken Ukuoha, paid her a visit.
Ukuoha had led the Nigerian and Ghanaian Chapters of the union to present a petition on the continuous closure of their shops to President Muhammadu Buhari through Dabiri Erewa’s office.
Nigerian traders were shut-out of their business premises in pursuance of the eviction order dated 27th July 2018.
The Ghanaian authority was demanding that traders must have one million dollars as minimum foreign investment capital to do business in Ghana as stipulated by its Ministry of Trade and Industry (GIPC) Act, 2013.
She expressed worry that in spite of the assurance of President of Ghana to Buhari that the shops would be re-opened, and despite an instruction to reopen the shops on Sept 27, the shops still remain closed.
I am just going to start by appealing to you; I know it is painful, it is emotional, it is deep but I just urge you to remain calm.
“I am surprised that after the announcement of President of Ghana on the reopening of the locked shops, they still remained under lock up till now.
“The president of Ghana paid a courtesy call on our president during the UN General Assembly in New York and he assured him that Nigerian traders were not being targeted.
“When they said foreigners, he assured that Nigerians were not the target; and since that time which was on Sept. 27, I am very surprised that as at today over 400 shops were still under lock in Ghana,” she said.
Dabiri-Erewa expressed dismay that Ghanaian president was yet to honour his promise to reopen the closed shops 13 days after.
The presidential aide promised to convey the union’s message to the president who he said was the Chairman of the ECOWAS.
She said that President Buhari as the ECOWAS chairman would ensure that the matter is resolved once and for all.
She urged the traders not to take laws into their hands no matter how provocative the situation may be but to remain calm.
“I am sure that the matter will be resolved between the two presidents and will be treated as ECOWAS matter.
“I know it is not only Nigerians that are affected but other ECOWAS nationals as well but I know that Nigerians are the largest.
“On behalf of the government I advise and urge you to remain calm because this is an ECOWAS matter and we cannot be doing this to ourselves,” she said.
While noting that millions of Ghanaian traders in Nigeria were treated as brothers she appealed to the union not to even think about retaliation but rather be calm and obey their laws.
“It is only a matter of time when this would be resolved, it is a matter of days these long faces would soon smile because President Buhari would surely intervene,” she assured them.
Ukuoha said that in 2018, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (GIPC) and Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) in a joint operation established a taskforce with specific mandate to clamp down on Nigerian traders.
He said that this had eventually resulted in the ongoing closure of over 400 Nigerian Traders’ shops in Kumasi and the Ashanti region of Ghana.
“We are deeply worried with the high level of government complicity and state sponsored incitement and xenophobic attacks on Nigerians on the street of Ghana.
“We can provide evidence based on information in video clips and recorded attacks leaving countless Nigerian traders at various hospitals.”
He noted with concern that Ghanaian security continually expressed helplessness by turning their eyes the other way, when Ghanaian hired thugs and criminals unleash mayhem on Nigerians, molesting and looting their goods and properties.
He said among NANTs demand, is the immediate reopening of the over 400 Nigerian owned locked shops in Ghana, as well as the immediate return of all seized goods.
He said the government should undertake to protect and provide security for all Nigerian traders and families and be held accountable for any ill treatment on Nigerian traders, or Nigerian citizens residing in Ghana.
Nigerians should not be subject to arbitrary and punitive taxation. GIPC Act should not be applied on Nigerian traders as we are not foreigners in Ghana but bonafide community citizens under ECOWAS Law, he stated.