More than 700 Nigerian traders in Ghana have appealed to the Nigerian government to evacuate them from the West African country for alleged cases of frustration and impoverishment by Ghanaian authorities.The maltreatment of Nigerian traders in Ghana was one of several issues raised in the diplomatic row between Nigeria and Ghana that attracted the intervention of presidents of Nigeria and Ghana a few months back.
The traders, who made the appeal through their union, the Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana (NUTAG), which is affiliated to the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) on Wednesday in Abuja said that the appeal became necessary because of frustrations and impoverishment of Nigerian traders as result of closure of their shops by the Ghanaian authorities.
The NUTAG President, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nnaji, and Dr. Ken Ukaoha, NANTS President, told journalists after their meeting with Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Richard Adebayo, in Abuja on Wednesday that Nigerian traders in Ghana were being tortured, intimidated, harassed and subjected to all manner of frustrations by the government and people of Ghana since 2007.
“Imagine our businesses being under lock and key for several months by Ghanaian authorities. Some traders who borrowed money from banks to transact businesses cannot pay back and some goods getting expired.
“Having consciously reviewed our situation and counted the costs, we have solemnly resolved to leave Ghana in peace before it is too late.
“Particularly to avoid our members being compelled by nature into criminal activities or shamefully turning to beggars on the streets of Ghana as survival strategies that will demean Nigeria’s integrity among the comity of nations.
“We are therefore appealing to our government to make necessary arrangements to organise and embark on immediate evacuation of our members and investments from Ghana,” Ukaoha said.
Ukaoha said that the traders wanted the Federal Government to take necessary steps to liaise with relevant Ghanaian authorities to ensure that their goods and properties are safeguarded and moved back to Nigeria.
According to him, the shops of Nigerian traders have remained locked after many traders have complied with the laws in Ghana even though the laws contradict the provisions of the ECOWAS treaty and protocols.
He commended the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana for its relentless efforts and dialogue with the Ghanaian government towards resolving the matter.
“There have been litany of diplomatic dialogues and several engagements initiated by the Government of Nigeria and had taken place on the same subject matter without any tangible solution,” he said.
Earlier, Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, had urged the Nigerian traders who are facing tough times in Ghana not to leave the country.
Receiving a delegation of the Nigerian Traders Association in Ghana, led by its National President, Ken Ukaoha, Mr. Aregbesola encouraged the traders to be patient with the government of Nigeria as it continues to engage the Ghanaian authorities and other relevant stakeholders with a view to addressing their challenges.
He assured the traders that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration would continue to engage Ghanaian authorities to ensure that the challenges faced by Nigerians were amicably resolved.
He said that the Nigerian government was pained by the condition under which Nigerian traders in Ghana had been made to operate in recent times and thus, assured that government would not abandon them.
“Your pains cannot endure, we will not abandon you, no stone is being left unturned to remove the pains you are passing through in Ghana,” local media reports quoted Aregbesola as saying.
About 753 Nigerian traders are ready to return to home to Nigeria, according to the union leaders.
They explained that the Ghanaian government is relying on the Ghana Investment Promotion Act 865 to demand from each “Nigerian trader to bring into Ghana a cash sum of US$1 million or the equivalent of the sum in equity before being allowed to start a business or to continue doing business in the retail sector in Ghana”.