The Nigerian government is finally making efforts to address the closure of businesses owned by its citizens in the former slave port colony.
To this effect, the country’s ministry of Foreign Affairs, has summoned the High Commissioner of Ghana to Nigeria, Amb Rashid Bawa, over the continued closure of over 400 Nigerian shops in Ghana.
Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama on Friday said the Ghanaian envoy was invited to give a definitive explanation on the treatment of Nigerian traders in that country.
The closure of over 400 Nigerian businesses in Ghana had sparked protest by National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and Nigerian Union of Traders Association Ghana (NUTAG).
Onyema 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
He noted with concern that there were, however, conflicting reports on the reopening of Nigerian traders’ shops in Ghana.
Onyeama said that a committee was being set up at a highest level in Nigeria to look into the matter and to look at how, as a government, how to 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.
The High Commissioner, in his response, said he visited the areas that experienced distress by Nigerian traders.
Bawa confirmed that about 80 to 85 per cent of shops that were locked had been re-opened and that the exercise was still ongoing.
He said the Ghanaian authorities were 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 and 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 opened. Some have not yet been opened. Opening of shops are still ongoing 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 in the owners presence.
“With these shops opened, I can say that about 80-85 per cent of shops that were locked have been opened. We insisted that before shops are opened, the owners should be there.”
The envoy also dismissed reports that a Nigerian in Ghana, Mrs 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.
A 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, said that some Nigerian traders refused to show up because of harassment by Ghana Union of Traders Association (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 that the charges were contrary to the spirit and letters of ECOWAS free movement protocol.
He also appealed that the government should 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