West Africa: Ghana Closure of Nigerian Businesses Raise Xenophobia Concerns

23 August 2020

The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, has described as "very disturbing" the closure of business premises belonging to Nigerians in Ghana.

Ghanaian officials had sealed off Nigerians' shops in Accra for allegedly failing to have the $1m equity stipulated by the Ghana Investment Promotions Council.

In response, the Federal Government, last week, recalled its envoy to Ghana for consultations and threatened to drag the West African nation to the ECOWAS Court of Justice if found to have breached the sub-region's Protocol of Free Movement of Peoples.

Senator Abaribe, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Uchenna Awom, said Ghana's action against nationals of other countries particularly Nigerians, points to State endorsement of xenophobic attacks.

"The authorities in that country needs to prove us wrong by putting a halt to further closure of the shops and attacks on Nigerians in compliance to the Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) protocol", he said.

The Minority Leader said Ghana's policy, which stipulates that retail trade is the exclusive preserve of Ghanaians, was a "willful denigration of sub-regional brotherhood" that is in clear conflict with ECOWAS protocol.

"So, what's the point having a economic community if at the end of the day each country resolves to make laws and regulations that are in contradiction with the binding protocol. This is quite absurd as it negates the spirit that propelled the formation of ECOWAS in the first place," Abaribe added.

Senator Abaribe urged ECOWAS to brace up and come clear in the prevailing circumstances to address the issue of free trade and movement among the peoples of the West African sub-region.

Denied rights

The Nigeria Union of Traders in Ghana (NUTAG) has urged the Federal Government to take urgent steps to end the ordeal of Nigerian traders doing business in Ghana.

The President of NUTAG, Chukwuemeka Nnaji, told News Agency of Nigeria, "They have continued to lock up our businesses, including our warehouses, and also harass our business partners.

"This implies that they really want us to run out of basic supplies like food or other amenities of life.

"We are appealing to our government to help so that Nigerian traders here will not die of hunger," Nnaji said.

He reiterated that an Inter-ministerial Task Force on Aug. 10 moved round the country to identify shops owned by Nigerians and requested that such businesses be registered for the purpose of raising tax.

Also, they requested for resident permit, standard control and Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) registration.

He noted that most Nigerian traders do not have the GIPC registration, which cost as much as $1million or in equity, adding that they were given 14 days ultimatum to regularise the demands.

The NUTAG president said the closure of the businesses had destroyed the owners' means of livelihood hence the need for the Federal Government to help.

"We are ready to return to Nigeria if that is the only option; we are not violating any law in Ghana, but Ghanaian authorities are treating us like outcasts in their dealings with us.

"They are denying us our rights by delaying the renewal of our resident permit and increasing and introducing new fees every now and then," he said.

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