Ghanaian President to engage Buhari over maltreatment of Nigerians in Ghana – Minister

The Ghanaian Government has said that President Nana Akufo-Addo will be engaging with his Nigerian counterpart, President Muhammadu Buhari, to…

The Ghanaian Government has said that President Nana Akufo-Addo will be engaging with his Nigerian counterpart, President Muhammadu Buhari, to resolve the issues raised on maltreatment of Nigerians in Ghana amicably.Reacting to claims made by the Nigerian Government over the maltreatment of Nigerians in Ghana among other issues raised by Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed last week, Ghana’s Minister of Information, Endkojo Oppong Nkrumah, said that President Nana Akufo-Addo would engage with President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve the matters amicably.

In a statement issued on Sunday in Accra, Nkrumah said the move was necessary to guard against straining the diplomatic ties between the two West African countries.

Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed had in his statement warned that the Nigerian Government would no longer tolerate further maltreatment of its citizens in Ghana among other issues.

 In his six-page statement, the Ghanaian Minister said: “Ghana finds it imperative, however, from the onset, to state, for the public record, that the outline of issues by my Nigerian counterpart is not reflective of the developments in Ghana. Any protests, decisions or actions based on these reports will, thus, be unjustified.

“We are obliged, therefore, as a first step, to provide our counterparts, as well as the Ghanaian and Nigerian publics, with a more reflective account of events, even as we pursue substantive diplomatic engagements to resolve matters.”

Reacting to the seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra, which has been used as diplomatic premises by the Nigerian Government for almost 50 years; and which action, is a serious breach of the Vienna Convention, he said that the statement was inaccurate.

According to him the transaction was a commercial arrangement between Thomas D. Hardy, a private citizen and the High Commission of Nigeria in Ghana on 23rd October 1959 and that the terms of the Commercial Lease expired 46 years ago, without any evidence of renewal by the High Commission of Nigeria in Ghana. The Government of Ghana was not involved in the transaction and has not seized the property in question.

On the demolition of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra, which constitutes another serious breach of the Vienna Convention the Ghanaian Minister said that the statement was not factual and a search at the Lands Commission indicated that the Nigerian High Commission failed to complete the documentation process after paying for the land in the year 2000 A.D.

“The High Commission failed to acquire the Lease and Land Title Certificate, which constitute documentation for the said property, as well as a building permit for construction. In Ghana, land is owned not only by the Government, but also by Stools and Families.

“The demolition of the property was not carried out by agents of the Ghanaian Government, but by agents of the Osu Stool. Nonetheless, the Government of Ghana, valuing the relations between our two countries, has decided to restore the property, at its own cost, to its original state for the Nigerian High Commission, and has duly communicated same to the Nigerian Authorities. The Government of Ghana has also agreed to facilitate the proper acquisition of title by the Nigerian High Commission, as announced by Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time of the incident,” he said.

On the accusation of aggressive and incessant deportation of Nigerians from Ghana and that between January 2018 and February 2019, 825 Nigerians were deported from Ghana the minister said that the statement was not factual.  According to him in 2019, 700 Nigerians, who were found to have been involved in criminal activities such as fraud, prostitution, armed robbery etc., were deported.

On the issue of media war against Nigerians in Ghana and that the negative reportage of issues concerning Nigerians resident in Ghana by the Ghanaian media is fuelling an emerging xenophobic attitude against Nigerian traders and Nigerians in general and the immediate fallout is the incessant harassment and arrest of Nigerian traders and closure of their shops, the Minister again said that the statement was not factual.

He explained that there was no media war against Nigerians in Ghana. “There is also no negative reportage on Nigerian residents in Ghana by Ghanaian media, which could potentially lead to xenophobic attitude towards Nigerians, particularly Nigerian traders in Ghana.

“No Nigerian trader has been arrested. The closure of shops was as a result of infractions on Ghanaian laws. Even then, those affected who are not only Nigerians, have been given ample time to regularise their documents. Furthermore, no Nigerian- owned shops are currently closed.

“On the contrary, the negative reportage has been against the Ghanaian Government from high places, (tweets by Foreign Minister of Nigeria and a Nigerian businessman, who appears to have political interests in Ghana), in Nigeria. This is inconsistent with established practice in our very good relations. The Press Release by the Information and Culture Minister of Nigeria is a clear departure from the manner in which officials of the two countries have related with each other in the past.”

“The aforementioned notwithstanding, the President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who values very much his excellent relations with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadou Buhari, will engage President Buhari with a view to develop immediately a framework for validating claims of ill treatment of citizens of either country, and ensure citizens enjoy the full exercise of their rights, while respecting the sovereignty and laws of both countries. Ghana and Nigeria, as they have been doing, must continue to work together for a successful West Africa,” he added.