Delegations of National Association of Nigerian Traders in Ghana (NANTS) and Nigerian Union of Traders Association, Ghana (NUTAG) on Tuesday stormed Abuja to protest continuous locking of over 400 Nigerian shops in Ghana by the Ghanaian authority.
The petition which was addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari was received by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora in Abuja.
Presenting the petition, Barr. Ken Ukaoha, NANTS President-General, lamented that the discrimination against Nigerian traders in Ghana dated back to 2007 when they were subjected to paying exorbitant taxes geared towards ruining their business.
According to him, the Ghanaian authorities passed a law which compels all foreigners to have a minimum of $300,000 USD in 2007 and later increased it to $1 million USD in 2018 as minimum capital to start a business in Ghana.
He opined that Nigerian traders were specifically targeted as over 400 shops belonging to Nigerians were locked up since July 27, 2018 till date despite their various appeals to the appropriate authorities.
Ukaoha said under ECOWAS protocol which Ghana was a signatory, Nigerians should not be branded as foreigners but a community citizen as long as they are carrying ECOWAS passport.
Regrettably, he said a Nigerian, Mrs Stella Upaleke, had committed suicide, because of the huge bank debts the closure had caused her and still in the mortuary in Ghana.
He said despite the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari who took up the matter with his Ghanaian counterpart, President Nana Akufo-Addo on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York, with a promise that the shops will be re-opened as Nigerians were not the target, the shops ,however, still remain closed.
“The diplomatic relations between the two countries is being threatened with this Ghana behaviour as they are playing politics with means of livelihood of Nigerians in Ghana’’
“We have over two million Ghanaians in Nigeria and Nigeria has been treating them well. We had petitioned the National Assembly and ECOWAS on this matter as law abiding citizen who didn’t want to take laws into our hands’’, he said.
Corroborating, Chief Emeka Nnaji, President of NUTAG said that Nigerian goods worth billions of dollars are being locked up with sizeable number of it as perishable.
“We are living in palpable fear in Ghana as they after our lives. We were beaten and tortured in Ashante region while incredible taxes imposed on us in order to cripple our businesses’’, he lamented.
Responding, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari commended them for the matured way the matter was handled and assured them of delivering the petition to the President.
She was worried that despite the assurance of President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana to President Muhammadu Buhari that the shops will be re-opened, and despite an instruction to reopen the shops on Sept 27, the shops still remain closed.
“Let me advise you to continue to be good ambassadors of Nigeria despite provocation. Don’t even think about retaliation as Ghanaians are our brothers.’’
The Presidential aide, who commiserated with the family of the deceased Nigerian trader who committed suicide, led others to observe a-minute silence in honour of the deceased.