Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government has said it was dismayed by the painful videos of forceful closure of shops of Nigerian traders in Ghana.
This is even as revealed plan to recall the Charge d’Affaires of Nigeria in Ghana for consultation.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who made this known on his Twitter handle, @GeoffreyOnyeama, said urgent steps would be taken to halt the situation. He said the government would take necessary steps to put an end to the trauma faced by Nigerian traders in Ghana.
“Nigerian government has watched with dismay, the painful videos of the forceful closure of the shops of Nigerian traders in Ghana. Urgent steps will be taken,” he said.
Briefing journalists in Abuja, Onyeama said Ghanaians were insisting on retail trade because it is meant for Ghanaians only.
Onyeama added that the retail code has been there for sometime, but that an agreement was reached over a year ago which led to why Nigerian traders had been operating till date.
He recalled his visit to Ghana as a special envoy of President Muhammadu Buhari where he met with Ghanaian President Nana Akuffo-Addo, followed by a meeting between both presidents and the issue was resolved.
Onyeama, however, said obviously, the issue has reared its head again and it seemed not to be resolved.
According to Onyeama, the Ghanaian code on retail trade is in conflict with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol on trade.
“So, this is something we want looked into at this non-respect of the ECOWAS protocol. What is the point of having an economic community if at the end of the day, each country would just make laws and regulations that are in contradiction of that? So, I think that is an issue that has to be addressed,” Onyeama said.
On the concrete measures the government is adopting to curb the situation, Onyeama said the first step is to be sure of all the facts before the government can act.
“So, this will entail hearing from the Ghanaian government. Our Minister of Trade is going to engage with his counterpart. We have summoned the Ghanaian High Commissioner who has given us information, we have the intention of recalling our Charge d’Affaires in Ghana for consultations and again, to get the facts because she is on the ground there.
“And we are also going to get in touch with ECOWAS to also understand clearly what the ECOWAS perspective on this is; if this law is in contravention of the ECOWAS protocol. Once we have all the facts, then we will consider all our options with the Ghanaian government. “
There has been lingering crisis between Nigerian traders in Ghana and Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) which led to the closure of over 400 Nigerian businesses in the country in the recent past.The closure resulted to protests by the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and Nigerian Union of Traders Association, Ghana (NUTAG) before they were eventually reopened.
Meanwhile, 71 young Nigerian girls trafficked to Lebanon and seen in a video that had gone viral where they were crying for help had been rescued and arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, early Monday.
Mr. Bitrus Samuel, Head of NEMA, Abuja, said the girls were the second batch of the more than 150 Nigerian girls who were trafficked to Lebanon in search of greener pastures.
Earlier in the month, 94 victims that constituted the first batch were received at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye, said the rescue came after the video footage appealing to government and well-meaning Nigerians to come to their aid went viral on the internet.
He said the ministry had several discussions with Mr Houssam Diab, the Ambassador of Lebanon to Nigeria, before the Lebanese government agreed to release the girls to the Federal Government.
He said the Minister was sad when he saw the video footage.