Nigerians protest against Ghana: Stop harassing our businesses

The Nigerian business owners are protesting against intimidation in Ghana

Some Nigerians have staged a demonstration in Abuja to protest what they consider as intimidation of Nigerian businesses in Ghana. 

According to them, Ghanaian authorities have so far closed some 400 shops belonging to their compatriots. 

The Punch Newspaper in Nigeria reported on its portal that the protesters who took to the streets on Monday handed over a petition to the Economic Community of West African States’ secretariat located in Abuja. 

The protesters, held placards with various inscriptions some of which read: ‘We need ECOWAS intervention’, ‘Ghana re-open Nigeria’s shops now’, ‘ECOWAS, the situation in Ghana is totally unacceptable’, and ‘Ghana wants AFCTA secretariat but clamps on African traders’ among others. 

The protesters alleged victimization of their friends and relatives in Ghana, and are asking ECOWAS to intervene within one week.

“This is a save our soul call and the urgency of this protest is to inform you of the state of fear, uncertainty and insecurity that Nigerian traders are currently subjected to in the hands of the government and people of Ghana in different cities under the coordination of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and the Ministry of Trade and Industry,” the petition stated. 

Non-Ghanaians in retail trade were ordered to leave the Ghanaian markets by July 27, 2018, or face the wrath of the government. 

The Ministry of Trade and Industry which gave the order in a statement threatened to take legal action against recalcitrant non-Ghanaians who fail to adhere to the directive. 

According to the Ministry, non-Ghanaians in retail infringes the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) law. 

Per Section 27 (1) of the GIPC Act, a person who is not a citizen or an enterprise which is not wholly owned by a citizen shall not invest or participate in the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place.

The Ministry of Trade later did a U-turn on the directive citing inadequate sensitization as the reason for the suspension. 

There were tensions at Suame Magazine in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region as local retailers vowed to evict foreigners who operate within the enclave. 

But government and the security agencies quickly stepped in to forestall any further attacks. 

The supposed attacks on Nigerian shops were also condemned by the Ghana National Association of Garages.

But the protesters in Nigeria say their shops should not be closed because Ghana is a signatory to the ECOWAS treaty which allows free trade. 

They also said there are a number Ghanaians operating shops freely in Nigeria without any hurdle so it is unfair what their compatriots are supposedly going through in Ghana. 

Speaking during the protest, the President of National Association of Nigerian Traders, organizers of the demonstration, Ken Ukaoha, said the Ghanaian government is demanding that non-Ghanaians who want to operate businesses must have a sum of $1 million. 

“Our members are shut out of their business premises in pursuance of the eviction order dated July 27, 2018 demanding that we must have $1 million as minimum foreign investment capital to do business in Ghana.” 

Ken Ukaoha said such action is discriminatory and threatened that if nothing is done about the issue, they would occupy the premises of the ECOWAS Secretariat.

According to him, the pressure on Nigerian business in Ghana has led to a Nigerian business woman in Ghana committing suicide because she was saddled with bank debt and could not pay due to the closure of her business.

Culled from Ghanaweb