Nigerian traders doing business in Ghana, have sent a Save Our Soul SOS message to the Federal Government, over what they described as selective harassment by the Ghanaian government.
It would be recalled that recently, traders of Nigerian descent in Ghana were subjected to various forms of harassment, which also led to their shops and businesses being closed down by Ghanaian authorities.
The Ghanaian government is asking Nigerian businesses to pay a staggering one million dollars before they can continue trading in the West African country. This according to stakeholders, negates the essence of the recently commissioned Africa Free Trade Treaty which allows for trade between sister African countries without barriers.
The Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana (NUTAG), under the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) says since 2007, thousands of Nigerian citizens trading in Ghana had faced unending harassment, intimidation, general maltreatment and deprivation of economic rights by Ghanaian Government and Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).
“Most of our members have come to Ghana to establish businesses believing in good faith that they are permitted and protected by the ECOWAS laws to freely move and make a living.
“But the Ghanaian government seems to believe otherwise and relying on a local investment law (the Ghana Investment Promotion Act 865), has suddenly made it a requirement for each Nigerian trader to bring into Ghana from outside a cash sum of One Million dollars or its equivalent in equity.
“The Nigeria trader will pay before being allowed to start a business or to continue doing business in the retail sector in Ghana.
“This requirement is beyond the means of the majority of Nigerian traders in Ghana.
“Moreover, to many, it makes a nonsense of the supra-nationality of ECOWAS Treaty signed unto by the 15-Member States and which confers ‘Community citizenship’ on every ECOWAS citizen irrespective of where they are located in the region,” he said.
Nnaji described as a false claim by their hosts that Nigerians were protected and that the exercise was not targeted at them, adding that political and diplomatic solution had thus far failed to solve the problem.
“This is absolutely unacceptable. We came to Ghana with friendship. This hardship we have been placed under has been exacerbated in recent times by the severe disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even traders who wish to forego their goods locked up in their shops and escape back to Nigeria from hardship and threat to their lives, are unable to do so as national borders remain closed,” he said.
He urged the president to give urgent consideration to its appeal and promptly intervene to avert further suffering and in some cases, deaths of Nigerians.
“This has become imperative and urgent so that we may not be pushed to a point where we defend ourselves and our investments with the last drop of our blood”, he said.
Trade tensions between both countries had been on the rise over the last few years, with a consequent diplomatic spark about two months ago, when a section of the Nigerian High commission in Accra was demolished by a Ghanaian businessman, apparently with the support of the authorities.
Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama at the time had sought clarity from the government in Ghana over the matter.