Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government of Nigeria has said it will take necessary steps to put an end to the crisis faced by Nigerian traders in Ghana.
This comes as the government plans to recall the Charge d’Affaires of Nigeria in Ghana for consultation.
The decision by the government follows the recent forceful closure of shops owned by Nigerian traders in Ghana.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, posted on Twitter that: ‘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.’
Briefing journalists during the day at the Tafawa Balewa House, 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 some time, but that an agreement was reached over a year ago which led to why Nigerian traders have 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 are going to 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 to 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.
‘So, we don’t want to anticipate now what our actions will be, but all our options will be there, depending on the facts. Clearly, if it is contravening the ECOWAS protocol, then we would have to now look at an ECOWAS solution, including the ECOWS Court as a final arbiter.
‘And then, we also have to look at reciprocity. Ghanaians, as the Progressive Ambassadors President has said, have the full rights of operating within the Nigerian economy. So, we have to look at that whole issue as well in terms of the concrete measures that can be contemplated,’ Onyeama said.
There had been lingering crisis between Nigerian traders in Ghana and the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) which earlier led to the closure of over 400 Nigerian businesses in Ghana.
The closure resulted to protest by the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and the Nigerian Union of Traders Association, Ghana (NUTAG) before they were eventually reopened.
The ill-treatment of Nigerian traders in Ghana is coming two months after the controversial demolition of block of flats within the residence of the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana.
Speaking earlier, the President of the Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (PAN), Jasper Emenike, called for urgent intervention in order to de-escalate the current situation between the traders in Ghana.
Emenike said it was unfortunate that Ghanaians can operate retail businesses in Nigeria without any hindrance which was not the case in Ghana.