By Victoria Ojeme
ABUJA—Federal Government has summoned the High Commissioner of Ghana to Nigeria, Ambassador Rashid Bawa, over the closure of over 400 Nigerian shops in Ghana.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the Ghanaian envoy was invited to explain the treatment of Nigerian traders in his country.
The closure of over 400 Nigerian businesses had sparked protest by the National Association of Nigerian Traders, NANTS, and Nigerian Union of Traders Association, Ghana, NUTAG.
According to Onyema, “there had been some horror stories and a case of a Nigerian lady’s suicide. When this broke, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ghana came here.
“We were assured that Nigerians were not the targets and that efforts were on 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 said a committee was being set up at the highest level in Nigeria to look into the matter and to look at how government can respond to the situation.
“The Ghanaian envoy was invited to give him the opportunity to brief us on current situation on the closure of Nigerian businesses in that country,’’ he said.
The High Commissioner, in his response, said he had visited the areas affected by the clampdown, confirming that about 80 to 85 percent of shops that were locked had been re-opened and that the exercise was in still ongoing.
He said the Ghanaian authorities were also making efforts to ensure that Nigerian traders, who were doing business in Ghana, were registered and had resident permits.
His words: “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 10 days ago have been re-opened and re-opening of shops is still ongoing as we speak.
“Those that have not been opened are locked because owners were not present at their shops. Ghana Union of Traders Association, GUTA, wants to open the shops with owners present.”
On the suicide by a Nigerian in Ghana, Mrs Stella Upaleke, he said: “I was with the regional police commander where the issue happened.
“The statement by the husband and daughter of the woman indicated that the suicide was not due to the lock up of her shop.”
Former Secretary General of Nigerian Union of Traders Association Ghana, NUTAG, Mr. Jasper Emenike, confirmed that some shops had actually been re-opened.
He, however, noted that some Nigerian traders refused to show up because of harassment by GUTA.
Emenike, therefore, appealed to the Ghanaian authorities to reduce the cost of registering business and totally exempt Nigerian traders from the Ghana Investment Promotion Council, GIPC, Act.
He said the charges were contrary to the spirit and letters of ECOWAS free movement protocol, and appealed to the government to stop the relocation of Nigerian traders from their shops.
He added that “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.”