…Maintains Action Constitutes Breach of Vienna Convention, Negates ECOWAS Protocol …Deplores Negative Report by Ghanaian Media which Influences Xenophobic Attacks Against the backdrop of the recent closure of many Nigerian owned shops, the Federal Government says it will no longer tolerate continued harassment of its citizens in Ghana and the progressive acts of hostility
…Maintains Action Constitutes Breach of Vienna Convention, Negates ECOWAS Protocol
…Deplores Negative Report by Ghanaian Media which Influences Xenophobic Attacks
Against the backdrop of the recent closure of many Nigerian owned shops, the Federal Government says it will no longer tolerate continued harassment of its citizens in Ghana and the progressive acts of hostility towards the country by Ghanaian authorities.
It also deplores the media war against Nigerians in Ghana. “The negative reportage of issues concerning Nigerians resident in Ghana by the Ghanaian media is fuelling an emerging xenophobic attitude towards Nigerian traders and Nigerians in general. The immediate fallout is the incessant harassment and arrest of Nigerian traders and closure of their shops,” the government maintains.
In a strongly worded statement issued on Friday in Abuja, the government says it is urgently considering a number of options aimed at mitigating the situation.
The statement signed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, said that the government had been documenting the acts of hostility towards its people and authorities.
The Minister listed such hostilities to include the seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra, which the Nigerian Government had used as diplomatic premises for almost 50 years.
He said the government considered the action as a serious breach of the Vienna Convention.
Mohammed added that the demolition of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra, was another serious breach of the Vienna Convention.
He said the government also frowned at the aggressive and incessant deportation of Nigerians from Ghana, noting that between Jan. 2018 and Feb. 2019, no fewer than 825 Nigerians were deported from Ghana.
Mohammed noted that more than 300 Nigerian shops were locked for four months in Kumasi in 2018, while over 600 Nigerian shops were locked in 2019, and currently, over 250 Nigerian shops had been locked.
He also cited, “Residency Permit requirements for which the Ghana Immigration Service has placed huge fees, far higher than the fees charged by the Nigerian Immigration Service.
“These include the compulsory Non-citizen ID card (120 U.S.120 dollars, and 60 U.S. dollars for yearly renewal), Medical examinations, including for Covid-19 which is newly-introduced (about 120 U.S. dollars), and payment for residency permit (400 U.S dollars compared to the N7,000 being paid by Ghanaians for residency card in Nigeria).”
The Minister also identified outrageous stipulations in the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act.
“When the Act was initially promulgated in 1994, a foreigner is required to invest at least 300 000 U.S. dollars by way of equity capital and also employ 10 Ghanaians.
“This Act has now been amended twice, with the 2018 GIPC Act raising the minimum capital base for foreign-owned businesses to one million U.S. dollars.
“Though targeted at foreigners, it seems GIPC’s definition of foreigners is Nigerians. The GIPC Act also negates the ECOWAS Protocol.
“Harsh and openly-biased judicial trial and pronouncement of discriminately-long jail terms for convicted Nigerians.
“There are currently more than 200 Nigerians in the Nsawam Maximum prison in Ghana alone,” he said.
Mohammed said the Government would like to put on record the fact that even though more than one million Ghanaians are resident in Nigeria, they are not being subjected to the kind of hostility being meted out to Nigerians in Ghana.
He added that, though the main reason given for the seizure of Federal Government property at No. 10, Barnes Road in Accra was the non-renewal of lease after expiration, the Ghanaian authorities did not give Nigeria the right of first refusal or the notice to renew the lease.
“By contrast, the lease on some of the properties occupied by the Ghanaian Mission in Nigeria has long expired, yet such properties have not been seized.
“Nigeria has time after time demonstrated its fidelity to the long cordial relations with Ghana.
“But indications, especially in recent times, are that Nigeria’s stance is now being taken for granted and its citizens being made targets of harassment and objects of ridicule.
“This will no longer be tolerated under any guise,” he said.
According to Mohammed, the government is appealing to its citizens resident in Ghana to remain law abiding and avoid engaging in self help, in spite of their ordeal.
Nigerians living in Ghana have continued to suffer humiliation at the hands of Ghanaian authorities as security operatives forcefully locked up their shops including those whose papers and tax payments were up to date.
President, National Association of Nigerian Traders, Mr Ken Ukaoha, revealed this while bringing the attention of the Nigerian Government to the latest attack on them in the country.
In a recently circulated video obtained by an online publication, SaharaReporters, armed security agents invaded a shop belonging to a Nigerian, where they were seen forcefully locking up the place without asking for documents.
The owner of the shop can be heard in the video telling the security operatives that he had paid all his taxes and was not operating illegal business.
Despite his explanations, the officials went ahead to seal the shop.
Ukaoha said, “The Ghanaian authorities today rolled out all their forces against Nigerians and their businesses, forcefully locking all shops belonging to Nigerians including those whose papers and tax payments were up to date.
“In the process, some Nigerians were manhandled and some goods and belongings confiscated. This is a clear signal and perhaps should be the final attack that must awaken Nigerian Government to reality.
“Would the Nigerian Government wait for further signals to understand that reciprocity is part of diplomacy? How long shall we suffer this humiliation?
“I hereby call on all well-meaning Nigerians and indeed credible leaders to come out and confront this perennial attack and degradation that has defiled the solution and even overwhelmed ECOWAS.”
Over 600 shops belonging to foreign traders, particularly Nigerians, at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Ghana, were recently locked up by members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association.