Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government, on Saturday, summoned the Ghanaian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Rashid Bawa, over the lingering crisis between Nigerian and Ghanaian traders in Ghana.
The government’s action followed the closure of more than 400 Nigerian businesses in Ghana which resulted to protest by the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and Nigerian Union of Traders Association Ghana (NUTAG).
The crisis had not abated in spite of the assurance of Ghanaian President Nana Akufo Addo to President Muhammadu Buhari on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, in New York, United States of America, that the shops that were shut were going to be reopened.
In his remarks, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said there were conflicting reports concerning the reopening of the shops.
Onyeama said the High Commissioner of Ghana was invited to brief the government on the current situation regarding the closure of the businesses.
Responding, Bawa said he was in Ghana and visited the areas where the crisis took place.
Bawa added that almost 80 to 85 percent of the shops that were locked have been reopened, even as he said the process of reopening the shops is ongoing.
Ghanaian authorities, Bawa added, were also making moves to ensure that Nigerian traders in Ghana were registered and granted residence permit.
Bawa said: “I was in Accra at the invitation of the president to go and have a look at what was happening on the ground. I spent two days on the ground, meeting with all stakeholders.
“Some of the shops at the time I visited ten days ago have been opened. Some have not yet been opened. Opening of shops are still ongoing as we speak.
“Those that have not been opened are locked because owners were not present at their shops. GUTA wants to open the shops with owners present.
“I can say that about 80 to 85 percent of shops that were locked have been opened. We insisted that before shops are open, the owners should be there.”
On the reports that a Nigerian trader, Mrs. Stella Ogonna Okpalaeke, a mother of three and an indigene of Nnewi, in Anambra State, committed suicide on September 22, 2018, as a result of the crisis, Bawa dismissed the reports.
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According to Bawa, “I was with the regional police commander where the issue happened.
“The police statement written by the husband and daughter of the woman, indicated that the suicide was not as a result of the lock up of her shop.”
On his part, the former Secretary General of Nigerian Union of Traders Association Ghana (NUTAG), Jasper Emenike, said many shops had been reopened.
Emenike however said some Nigerian traders refused to show up because of harassment by Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).
He urged the Ghanaian authorities to reduce the cost of registering business in Ghana and totally exempted Nigerian traders from the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) Act which is in contrary with the spirit and letters of ECOWAs free movement protocol.
Emenike further appealed that the Ghanaian government stop the relocation of Nigerian traders from their shops.
Emenike said: “We want to appeal that in furtherance to the efforts being made, there is need to put a permanent end to this issue.
“There is also the need to stop charging Nigerian citizens Identity Card (ID) fees which cost $120 for registration and $60 for renewal every year.”