Relations: Enough Is Enough, Nigeria Tells Ghana

The Federal Government of Nigeria says it will no longer tolerate the humiliation of its citizens by the Ghanaian Government, which has generated a diplomatic dispute between the two West African countries.

Ghana closed shops owned by Nigerian traders in retaliation for Nigeria closing its land borders in August, 2019, to check arms smuggling and enhance local production of goods.

In a statement issued by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Friday, Nigeria said it had tolerated enough from Ghana with regard to the treatment of Nigerians in its territory.

The minister listed actions taken by Ghana over time and said: “The Federal Government has been documenting the acts of hostility towards Nigeria and Nigerians by the Ghanaian authorities.

“These include the seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra, which the Nigerian Government has used as diplomatic premises for almost 50 years. This action is a serious breach of the Vienna Convention.

“The demolition of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra is another serious breach of the Vienna Convention.”

The minister said “even though the main reason given for the seizure of Federal Government property at No. 10, Barnes Road in Accra is 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.”

Mohammed said that between January, 2018 and February ,2019, some 825 Nigerians had been deported from Ghana.

He said that in addition, over 300 Nigerian- owned shops were locked up for four months in Kumasi in 2018 and 600 shops in 2019 and currently over 250 shops closed.

“Residency Permit requirements, for which the Ghana Immigration Service has placed huge fees are far higher than the fees charged by the Nigerian Immigration Service.

“These include the compulsory non-citizen ID card (120 dollars and 60 dollars for yearly renewal), medical examinations, including for COVID-19 which is newly-introduced (about 120 dollars), and payment for residency permit (400 dollars compared to the N7,000 being paid by Ghanaians for residency card in Nigeria).”

The minister noted the regulations outlined by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act which was initially promulgated in 1994 and required foreigners to invest at least 300,000 dollars by way of equity capital and to employ at least 10 Ghanaians.

The act has since been amended twice, with the most recent amendment in 2018 amounting to one million dollars as the new minimum capital base for foreign-owned business, he said.

According to Mohammed, the GIPC Act is a breach of the ECOWAS Protocol.

He also stated that the Ghanaian media had launched a campaign against Nigerians in Ghana and thus encouraged discrimination against Nigerian citizens.

“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 minister said.

He also noted “The harsh and openly biased judicial trial and pronouncement of indiscriminately-long jail terms for convicted Nigerians.:

“There are currently over 200 Nigerians in the Nsawam Maximum prison in Ghana alone,” Mohammed added.

He pointed out that there were over one million Ghanaians residing in Nigeria but none had been subjected to similar treatments that Nigerians were passing through in Ghana “nor has Nigeria acted out in any retaliatory way towards Ghana.”

“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,” the minister stressed.

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Hafsah Abubakar Matazu

Hafsah Abubakar Matazu is the current Programme Director at HumAngle. She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Mass Communication from Baze University Abuja. Prior to joining HumAngle, she worked for Abuja-based Daily Trust Newspapers as an investigative reporter. She leads the program team in planning and implementing grants as well as funded and non funded reporting projects. She tweets via @hafsahabubakar_

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